Marketing Minions (and How It Was Done Right)

by | Jun 25, 2020 | Branding, Marketing Strategy

The new minion movie Minions: The Rise of Gru was planned to hit theaters this summer, but Illumination Entertainment announced that current events would delay it until July 2021.Since the film already made an appearance during the 2020 Super Bowl and Minions products are hitting the shelves again, we updated our 2015 blog to see why and how minions are still marketable.

What are Minions?

Minions are the small, yellow, one or two eyed characters that have become iconic in the entertainment industry. They were originally supporting characters in Despicable Me and quickly became central to the film’s identity as the series continues. In 2015, they had their own full length movie, Minions.

How did they become so popular?

Despicable Me is one of the most successful animated franchises and the highest grossing animated series. The movies made more in the box office with each release ($543.1 million, $970.8 million and $1.035 billion for each film respectively). Minions alone made $1.159 billion in the box office. In addition, the Minions were included in 14 short films from 2010 to 2019.

The two mobile games also made a significant impact on the Minions brand. Despicable Me: Minion Rush was released in 2013 and continues to be played today. The app hit 1 billion downloads this past April. A couple of years later, Minions Paradise was released and by the end of 2015 it had surpassed 16 million downloads.

In addition to the box office data and game downloads, the evolution of minor characters roles’ in animated movies helped to make the Minions a success. In animated films before 1999, minor characters were not used to promote movies, nor did they have their own spin-offs. After the popularity of the Toy Story Aliens, animators began to use minor characters to add in humor and provide a secondary way to promote full length films. The minions in particular stuck out from other minor characters because they had more human features. This included their names, jobs, and daily activities.

What makes them marketable?

The Minions have appealed to the masses since their debut in 2010. This can be attributed to the pranks, body humor and simple comedy that were often found in silent films. For example, their simplistic body humor became a huge selling point for children. After the success of the Despicable Me, replica toy fart guns appeared in stores. Mattel has created a new fart gun that is branded with the new Minions movie in mind. For adults, the minions have become popular through ironic and relatable memes on social media. These memes were especially popular with what the internet called “Facebooks Moms”. This in turn created groups of people who poked fun at the “FaceBook Moms” minion posts and the sudden obsession with minions.

So, who’s getting in on the Minion fun now?

Universal Studios

Since our original Marketing Minions blog post in 2015, Universal Studios expanded beyond the popular “Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem” ride in Orlando and Hollywood.Minion Park. The park included the already popular “Minion Mayhem” ride as well as two new attractions (“Freeze Ray Slider” and “Minions Greeting”) and themed photo ops, stores and games.

The World Health Organization

In the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Foundations and Illumination Entertainment partnered on a short PSA called “Stay Home, Be Kind”. In the video, Gru shares his tips for physical distancing, staying active at home and being kind to others.


In February 2019, Mattel revealed that they were partnering with Illumination Studios and Universal Brand Development for the first time to create toys inspired by the Despicable Me franchise. Although, the new Minions film was delayed until 2021, the toys were released this spring.


Universal Brand Development also announced that Lego would be releasing new sets inspired by the movie. Due to the movie delay, only Lego products inspired by the movie’s characters are for sale. Products specific to the storyline of the movie have been pushed back to coincide with the new release date.


To add to the toys and figures promoting the film, Funko released two blog posts with information on new Minions POP! Figures. The first set is a direct related to the film with figures, minis and keychains of Gru and the different Minions. The second set was announced as part of Funkoween and includes 5 figures of Minions dressed as Halloween icons.

McDonalds Happy Meals

McDonalds once again featured the Minions to promote their new movie and celebrate 10 years of the animated characters. Between June 23, 2020 and July 27, 2020, Happy Meals included one Minion figure. Out of the 48 main characters an additional 1 in every 10 figures is gold, adding another 48 figures to the collection.

Okay, so why does marketing the Minions matter?

In 2020, the Minions continue to show that they are still accessible to multiple demographics and consumer industries. Over the past 10 years, the Minions have been featured in countless campaigns that include Amazon packaging, special edition Chiquita bananas, a Minions themed McDonalds menu, countless children’s toys, lodging and cruises and currently, a World Health Organization PSA.

Do you think the Minions will continue to be a marketing goldmine? Tell us your thoughts in the chat below.

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