Table of ContentsI. Brand Inventory: Marvel’s Brand Heritage......................................................................................................1 Brand Architecture and Product Offering............................................................................1 Point of Differentiation and Position...................................................................................2 Profile of Brand-Building Activities....................................................................................2 Marvel’s Market Offering....................................................................................................2 Current Market Strategy and Objectives..............................................................................4 Brand Performance..............................................................................................................4II. Brand Exploratory: Brand Image.........................................................................................................................5 Key Brand Associations.......................................................................................................5 Competitive Analysis...........................................................................................................6 Brand Personality.................................................................................................................6 Brand Awareness Level.......................................................................................................7 Brand Recognition...............................................................................................................7 Brand Loyalty......................................................................................................................8III. Brand Strategy: Fit between company’s view and consumer perception......................................................9 Marketing Effort Evaluation..............................................................................................10 Brand Equity Evaluation....................................................................................................10 Recommendation for Brand Equity and Extensions..........................................................11 Strategies to Grow Brand and Business.............................................................................11 Team Opinion............................................................................. ......................................12
I. Brand InventoryMarvel’s Brand Heritage:Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, was founded in Octoberof 1939 by Martin Goodman originally as Timely Comics. At the time, comics were seen as“inferior entertainment at worst and at best something for kids.”1 However, Goodman saw thesuccess of DC Comic’s Superman release and looked to profit from publishing his ownsuperhero comics. A surge of popularity in comic books in the 1930’s came to be known as the“Golden Age” for the industry.2 Timely’s first superheroes were “The Human Torch” and“Namor the Submariner,” but the company did not start seeing real success until CaptainAmerica was published in 1941.3 Captain America was created in response to the socio-politicalissues of the 1940’s, namely World War II, and was Timely Comics’ most popular comicbecause of the patriotism it elicited from its readers. As World War II came to an end,superheroes began to lose popularity, Timely Comics rebranded the company to Atlas Comics.In 1961, the renaissance of comics began as comic publishers looked to revive their charactersand business. Atlas Comics was renamed Marvel Comics and the Fantastic Four was publishedwith great success. Later on, Marvel released Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, The X-Men, andThe Avengers series that helped the company grow and establish its reputation.4Under the leadership of editor and writer Stan Lee, also the co-creator of some of Marvel’s mostpopular characters, Marvel introduced superheroes that had personality flaws and faced real-lifeproblems.In 1986, Marvel was sold to New World Entertainment, a television and film productioncompany, but was again purchased by MacAndrews and Forbes in 1989. In 1996, Marvel wasfaced with overwhelming debt and filed for bankruptcy protection. Marvel later then sold SonyPictures the film rights for Spider-Man resulting in a hugely successful trilogy.5Marvel enjoyed the increased attention from a wider variety of audiences and saw its popularityrise. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel for more than $4 billion and nowwholly owns Marvel as a subsidiary.6Brand Architecture & Product Offering:When Disney acquired Marvel, the parent received Marvel’s invaluable portfolio of more than8,000 characters, the key ingredient to Marvel’s success.7 Marvel Entertainment is listed underDisney’s Studio Entertainment branch and the film production industry. The company, however,does not only focus on film production, but is also involved in the publishing and licensing of itscharacters.8 Some of the more popular films that Marvel has released are the following: TheAvengers, and Iron Man, Spider-Man, and X-Men trilogies. Marvel continues to offer comicbooks in both print and digital form. According to Marvel’s website, some of the most popularcomic book series are the following: Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, The Avengers, Wolverine,and the Invincible Iron Man. Television shows such as Ultimate Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man,Wolverine, and Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers are some of the more recent cartoon titles running.Marvel offers simple online games geared towards kids on its website and has also licensed toSEGA and Activision to publish video games for home consoles, i.e., PlayStation 3. A wide !"
array of merchandise, i.e., costumes, DVDs, Blu-Rays, toys, collectible plastic figures, andapparel branded with Marvel characters are also available to consumers. See Appendix 1: Brand Architecture See Appendix 2: Product MatrixPoint of Differentiation & Position:As aforementioned, Stan Lee felt that instead of creating omnipotent, idealistic superheroes,characters with complex and realistic personalities would allow Marvel’s audiences to betteridentify with and relate to its characters. This can be seen in Spider-Man, a superhero who isalways out of luck, trying to make ends meet, and who often fails with women. Lee’s perspectiveon superheroes created a major point of differentiation for Marvel Comics. Marvel’s superheroesremain unique to this day due to the influence of historical events, socio-political issues, and thecharacters’ humanity. For example, Blank Panther was the first African American superhero, theWasp was a superheroine well received by feminists, and in reflection of the Cold War, Iron Manfought Russian villains in the comic series.9Brand Positioning Statement: To adventure-seeking males, ages 12-30, Marvel is the leading brand within the entertainment industry that provides the most thrilling stories and unparalleled graphics. Marvel’s strength lies in its legacy of creating the adventures of your favorite characters.Profile of Brand-Building Activities:In building the brand, Marvel identifies its “RTBs” in its brand as its legacy of creating thestories and adventures of Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and other beloved characters.Comic book fans’ experience with the brand is enhanced by movies where their favoritecharacters spring to life on big-screen. Viewers who are part of the general audience marketsegment are introduced to Marvel’s characters through captivating storylines, talented acting,and high definition graphics. Then, these viewers may possibly become interested in comicbooks, which will take their Marvel experience to another level. Movie-star Robert Downey Jr.helps to provide an even more complete experience of the Marvel universe when he appears atComic Con, talking and acting like his character, Iron Man.Even though merchandise, such as toys, helps to build the brand’s appeal to younger childrenand families, its effect is not as strong as its other brand-building activities. According to aDisney Store retail employee, the acquisition of Marvel hasn’t had a significant impact on storesales figures. On our visit earlier this month, the employee said claimed that many customerswalk in, are amazed to see Marvel toys and costumes, because they were unaware that Marvel isnow owned by Disney. This employee also said most customers visit the store for Disneyproducts but those with little fans at home are often pleasantly surprised to find that superheroproducts are available.Market Offering:ProductMarvel distributes films based on the characters it owns, offers comic books in both print anddigital form, television cartoon shows, online and video games, and miscellaneous merchandise !"
such as character costumes, toys and collectible plastic figures. In 2011, the musical Spider-Man:Turn Off the Dark opened for Broadway audiences.10Comic books are available in both soft and hard covers and the graphic illustrations are printedon glossy paper. Aside from regular issues of the series Marvel carries, special editions of thecomics are published intermittently. Movies combine film shooting with computer graphics andare available in either digital or 3D versions. Recent years, IMAX and bonus scenesforeshadowing the next highly anticipated Marvel character at the end of a movie, have helped toadd additional value.PromotionMost of Marvel’s marketing efforts go into promoting their big-budget movies. Movie trailersare broadcasted on television and also available online on sites such as YouTube. The attendanceof movie directors and actors who play Marvel superheroes at movie festivals is another wayMarvel gains publicity. Marvel is present on social networking sites such as Facebook, Pinterestand Twitter, and updates its statuses with engaging content, i.e., graphic illustrations or videoclips on a daily basis. Less media publicity effort has been invested in their comic books, whichare marketed in physical stores where they can be arranged and displayed on shelves and in glasscases. The types of merchandise available in retail shops usually reflect the superhero moviecurrently being promoted by Marvel.The Marvel logo is one of the most important brand elementsbelonging to the company and has remained unchanged since itwas first designed. It is simple yet impactful, straightforward andhighly recognizable, making it a memorable design. At the sametime, it is also adaptable. Usually white font on a red background,the Marvel logo can also be flexibly changed to match theoccasion, as shown.According to survey results, Spider-Man is the most recognizable character fromMarvel, which makes him an extremely important brand element. Spider-Man’sred and blue costume, designed with meaningful webbed patterns and a spider inthe center, has also become a symbol most recognized and remembered byconsumers.“With great power, comes great responsibility” is Marvel’s most famous quotefrom Spider-Man that many audiences have come to know because of the depth and meaning itcarries. Its writer, Stan Lee, however, says that he doesn’t know how he came up with that quoteand that it just hit him when he was writing.11 See Appendix: Marketing Activities Related to the Brand See Appendix: Brand ElementsPlaceMarvel comics can be purchased in bookstores, comic shops, digitally on the Marvel website,and online media stores like Apple iTunes. Toys and licensed merchandise can be found at a !"
variety of retail stores, grocery stores and convenience stores. Movies can be viewed in theatres,on home entertainment, and the Spider-Man musical is currently showing at the FoxwoodsTheatre in New York City.PriceWhile the industry norm for comic book pricing is $2.99, Marvel comic books sell at $3.99 perissue. Movie prices vary by location and can cost anywhere from $7-20 dollars since prices aredifferent for matinee, digital showing, 3D showings, and IMAX showings of the movies.Broadway tickets range from $97.50 to $173.50, depending on what kind of seating (balcony,flying circle, or orchestra) is selected. Merchandise can start at about $15 to $30 for toys, around$20 for Blu-Ray discs, approximately $50 for costumes, and even cost as much $400 for highquality, limited edition collectible figures.Current Market Strategy & Objectives:Since the strength of Marvel lies in its licensing activities, the company is currently looking to“leverage its franchises in a growing array of opportunities around the world, including featurefilms, consumer products, toys, video games, animated television, direct-to-DVD and online.”12Starting in January of 2012, Marvel will give LEGO Group the rights to create a “distinct Marvelbranded construction toy collection, called LEGO Super Heroes, which will bring the characters,vehicles and action of Marvels renowned universe to the world of LEGO build-and-playadventure.”13 Also in January 2012, JAKKS Pacific, a leading US toy manufacturer, announcedan agreement with Marvel Entertainment to “manufacture, distribute and market a line of plushproducts based on [the] Marvel Super Hero Squad.”14 This strategic move expands Marvel’sreach to family audiences and a wider, younger age range. For the year 2013, Marvel is lookingto release the last movie in the Iron Man trilogy, Iron Man 3, The Wolverine, and the sequelThor: The Dark World. Marketing promotions and merchandises available from Marvel in 2013can be expected to focus on these three superheroes: Iron Man, Wolverine, and Thor.Brand Performance:Since Disney’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009, the brand has been extremely profitable for itsparent company and the licensing of Marvel characters have increased Disney’s consumerproducts revenue by 8%.15 While the stocks for “media giants like Viacom, News Corp, TimeWarner and Disney all declined between 30% and 50%” in the beginning of the 2000’s, between2003 and 2008, Marvel’s stocks have increased by almost 90%.16The release of The Avengers was one of Marvel’s biggest movie successes, grossing $1.355billion in global sales, beating Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ $1.328 billion in 2011.The Avengers made it to third place of the all-time movies list, close after Avatar and Titanic.17Marvel’s success can be credited to the marketability of its characters. Given the specificcharacteristics of the industry Marvel is in, the only main, direct competitor of Marvel is DCComics, owner of the popular Superman and Batman. After Marvel’s entry into the filmproduction industry, movie Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Brothers also becamecompetitors of Marvel.18 As of November 2012, Marvel has 34.35% market share in the comicbook industry compared to DC’s 30.04%. The remaining 35.61% market share is dividedamongst miscellaneous comic publishers such as Viz Media, Random House, and ImageComics.19 !"
Graph created by Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc.20II. Brand ExploratoryBrand Image:Marvel has a very healthy brand image, and one that aligns well with its marketers’ intentions.The brand image exudes adventure, fun, power and excitement – offering broad appeal to gainpopularity with everyone from young boys to middle-aged moms. Marvel’s characters are notonly the good guys you cheer for, but the superheroes that are human-enough to be relatable.Marvel’s brand image also evokes its long history, as the brand has been a leading creator ofcomic entertainment since the 1960’s. Our field and online research, along with qualitativetesting, shows the brand to have favorable reception almost unanimously. See Appendix 4: Brand Pyramid See Appendix 5: Brand SurveyKey Brand Associations:Marvel’s key brand associations are many, colorful and descriptive, referring to its stories, actionand branded characters. In our brand survey, we asked respondents, “Please name the first fivewords that come to mind when you think about Marvel.” From 55 respondents, 50 unique wordswere associated with Marvel. The most popular responses can be organized as core brandassociations: !"
In addition to our survey responses, our team wanted to chart associations for both Marvelcomics and Marvel films independently. This effort was to determine the differences inassociations, and perhaps brand image, between the two. While many of the sentiments were thesame, i.e., characters and story components, we found the biggest discrepancies in audience. Forexample, associations of Marvel comic readers - like nerd, introvert and boys - came upinstinctively. In contrast, the audience for Marvel films did not conjure up associations becausefans are much more mainstream in nature with interest spanning demographics. See Appendix 6: Mental MapsCompetitive Analysis:The comics industry has many independent publishers, but the two main players remain Marveland DC Comics. The two companies together split roughly 80% of the market for comic booksales.21 With decades of character development and history, it would be difficult for any newcompetitor to enter the market and have any significant impact.Now owned by Time Warner, DC was established in 1938 and is home to 10,000 of the "WorldsGreatest Super Heroes.”22DC functions in many of the same arenas as Marvel, licensing itscharacters for merchandise, producing blockbuster films and regular editions of its many comictitles. However, the rivalry has been relatively friendly and has often included partnershipsbetween the two. Marvel even refers to DC as the “Distinguished Competition.”23 Brian Hibbs,owner of the San Francisco comic shop, Comix Experience, claims that he can’t remember atime in the past 23 years when Marvel was not the shop’s top seller by month.In regards to films, Marvel continues to lead over DC with a steady output of blockbuster hitsbased on Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk. The release of The Avengers in Maymade $1.5 billion at the box office.24 DC’s trilogy of Batman movies has been its only bigsuccess, with disappointments in 2006s Superman Returns, 2009s Watchmen and a major flopwith 2011’s Green Lantern. However, the company has announced the highly-anticipatedSuperman film, Man of Steel, slated to be released next summer and the Justice League comingin 2015.25 In contrast, Marvel has four new films being released in the next two years, alonewhich will be sequels to Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, along with a new team movie,Guardians of the Galaxy.26 !"
See Appendix 7: Interview with Comix Experience OwnerBrand Personality:The general thought on Marvel’s personality, as compared to DC, is that itis more down-to-earth and relatable. While Marvel’s heroes are ordinarypeople who live in real places like Los Angeles, DC’s characters are more“god-like” and live in fictitious cities such as “Gotham City” and“Metropolis.”In our brand survey, participants responded to questions testing Marvel’sbrand image and resonance – on both Marvel comics and Marvel films.Respondents chose to compare Marvel to a fast, raw and masculine Ferrariand marked it least like a fancy, refined Audi. They also compared Marvelto the gritty, loud, rock band, the Foo Fighters, and least associated thebrand with high-maintenance, pop star Ke$ha. When asked to describeMarvel as a friend, our respondents choose fun, cool, confident, excitingand adventurous and rated Marvel least likely to be lame, mean or annoying. See Appendix 8: Brand BlueprintBrand Awareness Level:Marvel has 70 years of history and awareness building with its 8,000 individual characters. Itwould be a daunting challenge to find someone who can not identify Spider-Man by name. Infact, that character in particular is ranked the #1 most recognizable comic book characterworldwide by Comic Vine. 27 Marvel currently has 4.75MM fans on Facebook with wideinternational reach, compared to DC Comics’ 872K fans.This past October, Marvel was approached by Susan G. Komen Foundation to partner around therare but serious issue of male breast cancer. The Komen Foundation identified Marvel as an idealpartner to reach targeted males with educational information. Marvel editor-in-chief, AxelAlonso, remarked on the unique partnership, "We never had Marvel characters have more juicein the outside world," he said. "You have to live under a rock to not know who the Avengersare."28Alonso’s sentiments are shared with many corporate partners who seek licensing deals withMarvel for use of its popular characters on everything from toys to fragrances and luxury cars.Attesting to the strength of the brand awareness, Marvel’s characters brought in a total of $6billion in retail sales to parent company Disney in 2011.29 One of Marvel’s licensing partners inthe food space is Bravo! Foods, where EVP of Sales, Mike Edwards, says of Marvel’s power,"Marvel has done an exemplary job of building high brand awareness of its diversified characterportfolio. The huge box office successes of Spider-Man, The X-Men, and Daredevil motionpictures have fueled an even stronger following. Our affiliation with Marvels Super Heroesshould significantly enhance our product exposure to a wider group of consumers."30Brand Recognition:As a company, Marvel has strong brand recognition of its iconic red logo, which most quicklyassociates with superheroes and comics. We know that the strength of Marvel’s recognition lies !"
in its repertoire of characters, and therefore, we tested recognition against its main competitor,DC. Our survey featured the images of 26 characters, split evenly between each publisher.Respondents were asked to write in the character’s name and select a parent of DC or Marvel. Of46 respondents, we found Marvel’s characters had superior recognition at 91% accuracy,compared to DC at 62%. Marvel only held a slight advantage in correct association with parentat 57% accuracy, compared to DC at 52%. As Marvel’s top character, Spider-Man was 100%recognized, but only 59% were able to attribute him to Marvel. We believe this is an importantarea of improvement for Marvel. If the mass popularity of Spider-Man and X-Men could bebetter associated with Marvel, this would decrease likelihood of brand swapping to DC’s movieand comics.Brand recall was also tested in our brand survey with equally telling results. Our respondentsrated themselves nearly equally into three categories: having read many comic books, havingread 1-2 comic books, and having never read a comic book. However, 44% could name, withoutprompts, 2-6 Marvel characters, and 25% could name more than 7. We found an even largerrecall when testing on Marvel films. With 66% of participants having seen many Marvel filmsand 30% having seen 1-2 films, we saw recall of over 6 movie titles jump to 33%. See Appendix 9: Character SurveyBrand Loyalty:While there are certainly brand loyalties to Marvel itself, the majority of consumers crossoverand enjoy characters from both Marvel and DC, as well as other competitors. This idea issupported by Comix Experience owner, Brian Hibbs, who believes, “fans follow their favoritecharacters, not companies.”31 We also see this trend at the movie theaters with The Avengerseclipsing the record-breaking box office sales of Dark Knight Rises. Fans are interested inexcitement and entertainment from their favorite superheroes, regardless of the brand associated.Several quotes pulled from comic forums like Fanpop.com illustrate the sentiment amongst fans: ! “I dont hate DC, but Marvel is still better.” ! “I couldnt follow DC like I can Marvel, but that isnt to say DC stories arent amazing.” ! “Ive always liked different aspects of both Marvel and DC, and they both pretty much evenly host all my favorite characters.”Neither Marvel nor DC are lacking in loyalty to its characters as fans remain fiercely devoted totheir favorites. To illustrate this point, “The Amazing Spider-Man” has one of the longestrunning comics at Marvel and is scheduled to end its run at an astounding 700th issue inDecember 2012. Marvel will be re-launching the comic as “The Superior Spider-Man” and hasconfirmed that Peter Parker will no longer be Spider-Man’s alter-ego. Spider-Man’s loyal fansare in an uproar about the change and writer Dan Slott has remarked that, when the 700th issuehits, he is going into hiding.32Another response from Marvel’s passionate fans is the practice ofcosplay, short for “costume play”, which is a type of performance artwhere fans embody their favorite characters through dress and actions.Cosplay is growing subculture with inspiration mainly from comicbooks, video games or anime entertainment. Marvel has a large and !"
growing community of cosplayers, and shows its support of these dedicated fans with specialevents and dedicated blogs and photo galleries on its website.III. Brand StrategyFit Between Company’s View & Consumer Perception:Disney views Marvel as an extremely important and lucrative brand. Marvel’s rich roster ofcharacters and storylines are stars and cash-cows for Disney as the brand can be leveraged andextended across multiple platforms to create all important franchises33. In addition, Disney istaking extensive measures to reinvest into the Marvel brand and increase its brand equity. Forexample, during fiscal 2011, Disney purchased the distribution rights for The Avengers and IronMan 3 from a third party studio. Furthermore, Spider-Man, one of Marvel’s most iconiccharacter’s production and distribution rights were reacquired back from Sony Pictures.34 Thisstrategic deal exemplifies the level of commitment Disney has made towards maintaining andconstantly strengthening Marvel as a globally recognized brand.Marvel’s brand is primary communicated through “Studio Entertainment” in the form of cinemapictures. Due to the seasonality of theatrical releases, Marvel does not engage in constantpromotion of its brand similar to more traditional consumer brands e.g., Nike, McDonalds, Apple,IMB, etc. However, Marvel’s comic books, merchandise, licensed characters-to-video-games areall examples of how Marvel keeps their audience engaged when their cinematic pictures are outof season. Marvel’s consumers fall into the following 3 categories:1) Die-hard Fans - These consumers can be characterized as having extensive knowledge regarding Marvel’s mythology, characters and are constantly engaged with the brand through comic books, movies and online blogs / forums. These consumers typically attend Comic- Con on an annual basis.2) Moderate Fans - These consumers are characterized as having average knowledge of Marvel’s brand. They can recognize the more iconic characters if referenced in pop-culture and have had the experience of reading a Marvel comic during their formative years. These consumers have view a large percentage of Marvel’s movies.3) Passive Consumers - These consumers are characterized as having little to no knowledge regarding Marvel’s brand. They cannot recall and do not recognize Marvel’s characters. Most of all, these consumers have not viewed a Marvel based movie.Perception of Marvel’s brand will differ based upon the aforementioned categories a consumerfalls into. Die-hard Fans perceive the brand differently from Moderate Fans and PassiveConsumers due to the fact that they believe the cinematic films have not been “true” to thestorylines which originated in the comic books. While there isn’t a negative perception of thebrand, Die-hard Fans do not perceive the brand as being 100% authentic and true to the heritageof Marvel. Moderate Fans generally have a positive perception of the brand as these consumersare not as overly critical / are not aware of the inconsistencies in the cinematic films. PassiveConsumers are indifferent towards the brand due to their lack of brand awareness and image.Subsequently, their over brand knowledge is very low. Overall, the perception of Marvel by themajority of consumers is in alignment with the brand’s intended message. !"
Marketing Effort Evaluation:As previously mentioned, Marvel’s marketing strategy is unique due to the seasonality of theircinematic films. Marvel is a classic example of an episodic marketer. Minimal to virtually nomarketing is conducted when there is no movie on the horizon. Conversely, when a cinematicfilm is approaching its release date in theaters, an enormous marketing effort is undertaken for aperiod of time, i.e, Billboards, TV commercials, Radio, etc. During the period when cinematicfilms are not in theaters, Marvel maintains its brand awareness with comic books, merchandiseand video games. Thus, while Marvel does not engage in a traditional IMC approach, its tailoredmarketing approach to its specific industry has still been extremely effective. Furthermore, this isa key insight into the critical role in which the comic books serve as a marketing tool. The role ofMarvel’s comic books as a marketing tool cannot be underestimated. While their cinematic filmsare clearly the stars and cash cows, the comic books present the consumer with an opportunity todive deeper into the mythology and character dynamics. Our interview with Brian Hibbs fromComix Experience, again provided key insights into the utility and importance of comic books asa marketing tool. When asked why he thought the comics division of Marvel is important to thecompany, Hibbs answered:“Theres so much history in the comics. All of the stories and plot twists are already written. Itslike saving years of paying screenwriters to come up with this stuff! Filmmakers are dying tocreate characters that resonate with people and that have a connection to viewers, all these comicbook characters offer that. Theyve been around since you were a kid and, even if you dont readcomics, you know them. Theyve got built in hype.”35Thus, not only can comic books be the initial touch point for a consumer, however, comic booksact as an ancillary marketing tool to keep consumers engaged when movies are not in season.Overall, while Marvel’s marketing effort is unique, its effectiveness cannot be called intoquestion.Recommendation for Brand Equity & Extensions:Due to the segmentation of Marvel’s consumer base, brand equity only needs to be addressedwith Passive Consumers. Due to their lack of brand knowledge, a function of brand awarenessand brand image, Marvel must actively improve these areas. By increasing relevance withPassive Consumers, Marvel could take the initial steps in remedying this area. Qualitativequestions could be asked and focus groups could be conducted in order to determine what type ofnew characters / storylines would pique the interest of Passive Consumers. It is important to notethat, this recommendation only lies within Passive Consumers. DREK is high with ModerateFans and especially with Die-hard Fans. According to the interview with Brian Hibbs, “Businessis the best it has been in 23 years. I attribute that to comic book heroes being featured in lots ofnew media from TV, internet and movies. Comics are no longer a sign of nerdiness. Comics arecool now. In the past 20 years, the biggest blockbuster titles have been based off of comic bookcharacters. That never would have happened in the decades prior, comics were too nerdy.”36With the association of comic book readers moving from nerds to being culturally accepted, andeven to being cool, Marvel could not place itself in a more advantageous position in order toleverage this paradigm shift in pop-culture to continue to grow and strengthen its brand equity.Knowledge and Esteem are both high with consumers, while Relevance could arguably be at it !"#
highest point ever due to the fact that these life-long superheroes are finally being brought to“life”. Consumers can relate to their favorite superheroes more than they could ever could whenthey were only 2D. A strong argument could be made that 100% of Marvel’s brand equityresides in its characters. Based on this assumption our group has devised the following growthstrategies for the brand and market share.Only a few extension strategies make sense for the brand because Marvel has already extendeditself in almost every logical sense. From branded glassware, licensed characters for video gameconsoles, to even diapers, Marvel has done a superb job in leveraging their assets. See Appendix 2: Product MatrixStrategies to Grow Brand & Business:For Marvel to further develop its brand and increase its market share, Marvel must continue todevelop relatable characters and dynamic storylines. Specifically, Marvel must address the issueof elevating some of lesser-known characters to mainstream status. As with any product, its PLCis finite. There are only so many reboots of Spider-Man, X-Men, etc., that Marvel will be able tolaunch until consumers’ interest subside. Thus, Marvel must proactively position other characterswhich have a sizable following / recognition and invest into marketing them.Marvel needs to strengthen equity in additional characters. Marvel has over 8,000 characters inits portfolio, however only a fraction of those characters are recognized as global brands. This isa prime example of 80/20 rule, albeit, in Marvel’s case, it is about 95/5.37 Marvel’s 10 mostpopular are the following38: 1) Spider-Man (Peter Parker) 2) Captain America (Steve Rogers) 3) Iron Man (Anthony Stark) 4) Wolverine (James Howlett) 5) Silver Surfer 6) Rider (John Blaze) 7) Gambit 8) Thor (Thor Odinson) 9) Phoenix (Jean Grey) 10) Hulk (Bruce Banner)Each of these characters have appeared on the silver-screen, with Spider-Man, Captain America,Iron Man, Wolverine, Phoenix and Hulk appearing in multiple sequels. Marvel needs to increasethe recognition of other characters and evaluate their status as the Product Life Cycle for each ofthese characters has a finite shelf-life. Even with multiple “re-boots” consumers will wantsomething fresh and Marvel has practically a limitless amount of supply to meet their demands -“70 years of character history and awareness built up around its properties”.39 It would beunreasonable to believe that Marvel could elevate every single one of its characters to the iconicstatus Spider-Man holds; however, it would be not be unreasonable to assume that Marvel couldelevate some of its mid-tier characters, i.e, Storm, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Gambit, Deadpool,Black Panther, Black Widow, Cyclops. !!"
The following are 3 strategies for brand and business growth:1) Development of International Characters – Marvel’s characters, storylines and pop-culture references are primarily derived from the US and from Western (American) culture. One strategy for Marvel to increase brand equity would be to diversify its characters / storylines and provide its global audience with more of an international flavor. Marvel could further segment its consumer base either by ethnic background, geographic location, or a combination of the two depending on which segmentation strategy would generate the highest recognition.2) Development of “The Broadway Market” – Marvel has already demonstrated success with bringing its characters to Broadway. It’s first attempt into live-action-theater was with “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark”.40 Similar to how Marvel entered the movie production industry, this is another opportunity Marvel could take advantage of in order to not only increase its brand, however expand its reach to a completely new demographic and grow its business.3) Development of a live-action-drama TV Series – Similar to Smallville, a TV series depicting the formative years of DC Comic’s infamous Superman41, Marvel should development a series focused on one of its better-recognized characters (perhaps Spiderman). Furthermore, the nature of the series should take on a more adult tone, potentially attracting viewers from a new demographic.Team Opinion:Marvel must conduct a thorough product rationalization to determine which unknown/nichecharacters should remain only in the comic books, with a low investment and an expected lowreturn. Subsequently, power brands, e.g., The Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, etc., can be furtherdeveloped with continued investments. Moreover, with this strategy, Marvel will optimize itsresource allocation to characters appropriately, prioritizing those who have demonstrated astrong financial return and continuing to elevate burgeoning characters into the pipeline. Thiswill help maximize revenues, reduce unprofitable investments and engage fans in the mostappropriate methods for each consumer group. !"#
References:########################################################1 Ware, Chris, "A History of Marvel Comics from the Beginning Through World War II," Yahoo Voices, 1/5/2009,http://voices.yahoo.com/a-history-marvel-comics-beginning-through-2407991.html2 Cox, Stephanie, "Brief History of DC and Marvel Comics Companies," Suite 101, 10/14/2008,http://suite101.com/article/a-history-of-dc-and-marvel-comics-a733523 Ware, Chris, "A History of Marvel Comics from the Beginning Through World War II," Yahoo Voices, 1/5/2009,http://voices.yahoo.com/a-history-marvel-comics-beginning-through-2407991.html4 "Marvel Comics Timeline," The Comics Chronicles,http://www.comichron.com/comicstimeline/marveltimeline.html. Accessed December 7, 2012.5 "Marvel Comics Timeline," The Comics Chronicles,http://www.comichron.com/comicstimeline/marveltimeline.html. Accessed December 7, 2012.6 LexisNexis, “Marvel Entertainment, Inc.” LexisNexis Academic database, 2012.7 The Walt Disney Company website, http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/disney-companies/studio-entertainment#561. Accessed December 10, 2012.8 LexisNexis, “Marvel Entertainment, Inc.” LexisNexis Academic database, 2012.9 Schedeen, Jesse, "Marvel Comics and History," IGN, March 7, 2011,http://www.ign.com/articles/2011/03/07/marvel-comics-and-history.10 Brantley, Ben, "1 Radioactive Bite, 8 Legs and 183 Previews." The New York Times, June 14, 2011,http://theater.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/theater/reviews/spider-man-turn-off-the-dark-opens-after-changes-review.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.11 LexisNexis, “Marvel Entertainment, Inc.” LexisNexis Academic database, 2012.12 Mutzman, Keith, “Marvel Super Hero Squad Online and Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat Team Up toDefeat the Dreaded Doctor Doom!” LexisNexis Academic database, November 14, 2011.13 (“Marvel Entertainment and The LEGO Group Announce Strategic Relationship in Construction Toy Category.”LexisNexis Academic database, 7/20/2011.14 (“JAKKS Pacific Secures Licensing Agreement with Marvel for Super Hero Squad(TM) Plush and Skill & ActionGames.” LexisNexis Academic database, 1/10/2012.15 The Walt Disney Company. “Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Financial Report & Shareholder Letter.” 1/10/1216 Siklos, Richard, "Spoiler alert: Comic books are alive and kicking," CNN Money, October 13, 2008,http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/10/news/companies/siklos_marvel.fortune/17 Rosen, Christopher, "The Avengers Box Office: Marvel Blockbuster Passes Harry Potter, Dark Knight On All-Time Lists," The Huffington Post, June 3, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/03/the-avengers-box-office-harry-potter_n_1565992.html.18 LexisNexis, “Marvel Entertainment, Inc.” LexisNexis Academic database, 2012.19 “Publisher Market Shares: November 2012,” Diamond Comics Distributors, December, 2012,http://www.diamondcomics.com/Home/1/1/3/237?articleID=128936.20 Diamond Comics Distributors, Inc., www.diamondcomics.com. Accessed on 12/5/12.21 Siklos, Richard, “Spoiler alert: Comic books are alive and kicking,” CNN Money, 10/13/2008.http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/10/news/companies/siklos_marvel.fortune/22 DC Entertainment website, http://www.dcentertainment.com. Accessed on 12/8/12.23 Cracked, “Marvel vs. DC”, 3/1/12. http://www.cracked.com/funny-6460-marvel-vs-dc/24 Box Office Mojo, “Marvel’s The Avengers.” http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=avengers11.htm. Accessed on12/5/12.25 Fritz, Ben, “Nolan-Free ‘Justice League’ Raises Questions for Warner DC Films,” Los Angeles Times, 7/10/12.http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-nolan-warner-dc-justice-league-20120710,0,4654712.story26 Fritz, Ben, “Nolan-Free ‘Justice League’ Raises Questions for Warner DC Films,” Los Angeles Times, 7/10/12.http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-nolan-warner-dc-justice-league-20120710,0,4654712.story27 “Most Recognized and Popular Characters World Wide,” Comic Vine.http://www.comicvine.com/myvine/blackestnight/most-recognized-and-popular-characters-world-wide/75-16992/28 Castillo, Michelle, “Marvel raises awareness for male breast cancer,” CBS News, 10/12/12.http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57531418/marvel-raises-awareness-for-male-breast-cancer/ !"#
###################################################################################################################################################################################29 Palmeri, Christopher, “Disney Pilots $6 Billion Marvel Licensing Machine: Retail,” Business Week, 5/4/2012.http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-04/disney-pilots-6-billion-marvel-licensing-machine-retail30 “Bravo! Foods To License Marvel Brands for Its Slammers Milk Products,” PR Newswire, 2/1/2011.http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bravo-foods-to-license-marvel-brands-for-its-slammersr-milk-products-58965312.html31 Brian Hibbs Interview (See Appendix)32 Ching, Albert, “Slott Talks AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698s Big Twist,” Newsarama, 11/27/12.http://www.newsarama.com/comics/dan-slott-amazing-spider-man-698.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Newsaramasite+%28Newsarama.com%2933 The Walt Disney Company. “Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Financial Report & Shareholder Letter.” 1/10/1234 The Walt Disney Company. “Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Financial Report & Shareholder Letter.” 1/10/1235 Brian Hibbs Interview (See Appendix)36 Brian Hibbs Interview (See Appendix)37 Wikinvest. “Marvel Enterprises (MVL).” Wikinvest Investment Analysis Portal,http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Marvel_Enterprises_(MVL). Accessed on 12/7/2012.38 Wikinvest. “Marvel Enterprises (MVL).” Wikinvest Investment Analysis Portal,http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Marvel_Enterprises_(MVL). Accessed on 12/7/2012.39 Wikinvest. “Marvel Enterprises (MVL).” Wikinvest Investment Analysis Portal,http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Marvel_Enterprises_(MVL). Accessed on 12/7/2012.40 Brantley, Ben, "1 Radioactive Bite, 8 Legs and 183 Previews." The New York Times, June 14, 2011,http://theater.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/theater/reviews/spider-man-turn-off-the-dark-opens-after-changes-review.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.41 IMBd. “TV Series - Smallville”. Online source for cinematic and TV content.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0279600/. Accessed 12/8/2012.# !"#
2. Product Matrix The following matrix documents all the products Marvel has to offer for their most popular characters. Brands Spider-man Captain America Iron Man X-Men The Avengers Fantastic Four Amazing Spider Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Invincible Astonishing X-Men, Avengers, New Fantastic Four, Comics Avenging Spider Man Ultimate Captain Iron Man Wolverine Max Avengers, Avengers Visionaries, The Life (Print) America, Americas Academy, Uncanny Fantastic, The New Avenger Avengers Fantastic Four Ultimate Comics Spider Captain America, Iron Man, Invincible X-23, Uncanny Dark Avengers, World Fantastic Four, True Comics Man, Spider Man & The Reborn Iron Man, Iron Man X-Men, Dark War Hulk, Fall of the Story, Marvel Age (Digital) Secret Wards 2.0 Wolverine Hulks Spider-Man trilogy, The Captain America: The Iron Man trilogy X-Men trilogy, Marvel’s The Avengers Fantastic Four, Fantastic Amazing Spider-Man First Avenger, The X-Men Origins: Four: Rise of the Silver Product Type Films Winter Soldier Wolverine, X-Men: Surfer First Class Spider-Man, Ultimate Captain America Iron Man, Iron Man X-Men, X-Men: The Avengers: Earth’s Fantastic Four: Worlds Spider Man, Armored Evolution, Mightiest Heroes Greatest Heroes, Silver Television Spider-Man Unlimited, Adventures Wolverine and the Surfer Shows The Spectacular X-Men Spider-Man Spider-Man, Iron Spider MvC Origins: Captain Iron Man, Iron Man X-Men series, X2X, Avengers Initiative, MvC Origins: Fantastic Games America Flight Test MvC Origins: Avengers Alliance, Four Wolverine Avengers:Takedown! Merchandise books, artwork, posters, costumes, watches, DVDs, Blu-Rays, calendars, toys, collectible plastic figures, apparel, accessories, etc.
3. Brand Elements (continued on next page):! Type Brand Element Brand Names Marvel Spider-Man X-Men The Avengers Captain America Iron Man Hulk Logos and Symbols (Avengers) (X-Men) (costume) !
Characters Spider-Man(rated based on survey results) Wolverine Captain America Hulk Iron Man Thor The Avengers Slogans and Jingles “With great power, comes great responsibility.” “Your friendly neighborhood, Spiderman.” !Spiderman, spiderman, does whatever a spider can.Packaging and Signage Comic book physical cover Digital comics – electronic format Blu-ray/DVD case Films – movie poster and promotions Merchandise packaging ! !
3: Marketing Activities Related to the Brand:Media Advertising Place Advertising- Magazines - Posters- TV - Stan Lee’s cameo appearances- Movie trailers (online, TV, - Avengers movie uniting all superheroes film)Interactive Direct Response Advertising- Website - Marvel event app (Apple & Android) updates- Twitter on events, streams videos, interaction with- Facebook other Marvel fans- Google +- YouTube- Get Glue- Pinterest- Forums- Blogs- Podcasts- Games on websitePoint of Purchase Advertising Consumer Promotions- Comics on stand in bookstore - Contest to win a Street Bob motorcycle at a- Movie previews Marvel movie premiere- Movie trailers - Blu-ray discounts at Target/Amazon.comEvent Marketing & Sponsorship- Movie festivals- Hollywood award ceremonies/events- Spider-Man Broadway show- Spider-Man float in Macy’s Thanksgiving parade- Comic-con and other industry trade shows !
7. Interview with Brian Hibbs, Owner of Comix Experience (continued on next page): Q. How does Marvel rank in sales compared to other publishers? A. Month after month, Marvel dominates in sales. In fact, I cant remember any time they havent been number one. However, they did just raise their prices from $2.99, which is industry standard, to $3.99. At the same time, they reduced the quality of their paper stock! Q. And that didnt hurt their sales at all?A. No, it annoyed everyone but sales are still steady.Q. Who are Marvels biggest competitors?A. There are many smaller guys that have a good following, but Marvels only maincompetitor is DC - which is owned by Warner Brothers.Q. Do you see a difference in audience for DC and Marvel or do the readers crossover?A. There are a few die-hards for Marvel, which we call "Marvelzombies", but really, mostreaders enjoy all different titles and dont stick strictly to one publisher.Q. How would you characterize the difference between DC and Marvel comics?A. Besides the characters, there is none - they both have top writers and stories andsuperpowers.Q. Have you noticed any difference in how fans feel about Marvel since Disneys release ofits many Marvel films?A. No, not really. I think most fans are excited about the movies. Theyll complain aboutsome stuff - but we enjoy it. Theres definitely no backlash like Marvels a sell out oranything.Q. Has business picked up since the big films have come out?A. Business is the best it has been in 23 years. I attribute that to comic book heroes beingfeatured in lots of new media from TV, Internet and movies. Comics are no longer a sign ofnerdiness. Comics are cool now. In the past 20 years, the biggest blockbuster titles havebeen based off of comic book characters. That never would have happened in the decadesprior, comics were too nerdy.Q. Do the sales of Marvel titles increase when a movie comes out?A. No, theres not really that connection. I think its because there are so many othermerchandise choices to support those movie characters. Like, youd probably go buy yourson a Spider-Man lunchbox before you would get him a Spider-Man comic book. But whenthe show "Walking Dead" came out, we saw a huge interest in the comic books. That wasbecause there was nothing else to support peoples interest in the stories. The only place toget "more" was through the comics. !
Q. Why do you think the comics division of Marvel is important to the company and to the success of its movies? A. Theres so much history in the comics. All of the stories and plot twists are already written. Its like saving years of paying screenwriters to come up with this stuff! Filmmakers are dying to create characters that resonate with people and that have a connection to viewers, all these comic book characters offer that. Theyve been around since you were a kid and, even if you dont read comics, you know them. Theyve got built in hype.8. Brand Blueprint:! FG*=+($)*+$2!()+)$/(1()H !!!!!"#!$%&()*+,-./(0!1$2-3!$0-!45,673!8$+&2!/-!)9!2$%/(0!:+$(%!;/)9/(!)9!()+)$/(1()!/(%*-)+<!)9$)!=+#&/%-!)9!1#-)!)9+/22/(0!-)#+/-!$(%!*(=$+$222%!0+$=9/>-?!8$+&2@-!-)+(0)9!2/-!/(!/)-!2#(0!20$><!#A!>+$B(0!)9!$%&()*+-!#A!<#*+!A$&#+/)!>9$+$>)+-?!!! "9+/22/(0 !C#;+A*2 !D()+)$/(/(0 !E-=/+$B#($2 !! !