Congratulations to Natalie D., third place winner in the HALO Fall 2016 Scholarship Contest. Natalie is a current student at Elmhurst College where she is studying music with the hope of joining the marketing team at a concert hall. She has participated in leadership groups and even helped with a local state representative’s campaign last summer, aiding in the marketing efforts to constituents.
Read her winning essay below.
Essay topic: Give an example of a rebranding strategy done well. Why was the change necessary, what steps did the brand take to implement the change and what was the result?
Marketers assemble (The Avengers)! Bear witness to one of the greatest rebranding strategies within the last twenty years. The Marvel franchise has appealed to their growing fan base from its first print of Marvel Comics in October 1939, to hit blockbusters on screen today (The Grand Comics Database). Subsequent print releases after Marvel Comics, such as Captain America and The Fantastic Four, competed heavily with comic rival D.C. Comics, and remained one step ahead of them. Stan Lee, author of most of these notable super hero stories, raked in thousands of dollars in revenue within his first few famous years; showing that Marvel’s ability to give hope to both young and old readers and instill role model characteristics made their stories captivating and worthy of purchase (MarketWatch Inc.).
From comic books stemmed merchandise, action figures, and even Halloween costumes, advertised under the slogan, “Become a Marvel masquerader” (Ramita, John)! Before the invention of the internet and outstanding cinema special effects, these paper and ink movies in your mind were one of the sole modes of entertainment for a young reader. As the word of Marvel’s comics spread like wildfire, it seemed as though no other force, or evil villain, could obstruct its path to rising fame. However, “with great power comes great responsibility” (Spider-Man).
In the middle of the 1990s, the height of Marvel’s career, their comic book sales suddenly crashed. The reason: modern cinema. Technology had evolved into a new era; DVDs equipped with explosions you could witness and not just imagine, were casting paper and ink to the shadows. In a society that was speeding towards the new technological age of the millennium, print companies were losing their fight against the screen (Last, Jonathan). It was up to the Marvel crew to take responsibility, find a new way to capture fans, and quick. The rival D.C. Comics had already started the Superman film franchise, setting them apart from Marvel, a company still stuck in the past. Leading up to their crash, Marvel tried on multiple occasions to option out their characters to low budget film companies, but this offered little to no success. The sales and revenue of the comic company proceeded on a slow decline towards bankruptcy, and no matter which ad campaign they displayed, fans were losing interest in the prehistoric printing press (Last, Jonathan).
Marvel took it upon themselves to realize that if you can’t beat them, join them, and started working as a subsidiary for the Walt Disney Company in 1993. For a period of fifteen years, Marvel stayed quiet while they worked on their first cinematic masterpiece (MarketWatch Inc.). In 2008, Iron Man was released in theatres, stunning dormant fans and wooing new ones. This fantastic superhero film has grossed $318,412,101 to date, and gave birth to a new era of Marvel’s franchise (IMBD).
The rebranding strategy Marvel demonstrated, appealing to a new consumer interest, saved their company from a catastrophic collapse. However, the ultimate reason this process works for the now multimillion dollar branch of Disney is that the early comic book readers have grown with the characters expressed on screen. Old fans now share their interest with their children and create a completely new young generation of consumers who have never previously touched a comic. Essentially, Marvel doubled their consumer pool and observed their sales skyrocket, thanks to this brilliant tactic. It looks as if their cinematic “clobberin’ time” is far from over (Fantastic Four).
Fantastic Four. Performance by Michael Chiklis, 20th Century Fox, 2005.
IMBD. “Iron Man.” Box Office Mojo, IMBD, 7 Dec. 2016, www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=ironmanfranchise.htm. Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.
Last, Jonathan. “The Crash of 1993.” Standard, The Weekly Standard LLC, 13 June 2011, www.weeklystandard.com/the-crash-of-1993/article/573252. Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.
Ramita, John. “Hulk it for Halloween.” Gunaxin, Gunaxin Media, 30 May 2012, media.gunaxin.com/retro-comic-books-amazing-ads/121493. Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.
Spider-Man. Performance by Toby Maguire, Columbia Pictures, 2002.
The Avengers. Performance by Samuel Jackson, Walt Disney Studios, 2012.
The Grand Comics Database. “Marvel Comics #1 (First Printing).” Comics.org, The Grand Comics Database, www.comics.org/issue/556/. Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.
Wilkerson, David. “Disney to acquire Marvel Entertainment for $4B.” Market Watch, MarketWatch Inc., 31 Aug. 2009, www.marketwatch.com/story/disney-to-acquire-marvel-entertainment-for-4b-2009-08-31. Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.