In this day and age, it’s commonplace for corporations to partner up with celebrities or other companies that resonate strongly within the realm of pop-culture to help boost their brand. We’ve seen it with Michael Jordan and Nike, with MetLife and the Peanuts, and now, Marvel Entertainment exec Jon Ennis has opened up about how the House of Ideas approaches the matter while still remaining true to the core values of its characters.
Speaking with Fast Company, Ennis went into the nitty-gritty about how Marvel is able to help companies in need, thanks to the publisher’s renowned name power. “The goal for our group is to provide marketing solutions for our clients based on their own needs and goals. Those things may include Marvel characters, they may not,” Ennis said. “Certain brands want to work with us that don’t actually need our characters, but leverage our resources, the brand recognition, our art and writing talent, all these other things. Marvel has a wealth of characters–up to around 9,000 now–which is a big selling point, but it’s not the only thing we do, and we’re able to work around what a client wants.”
One of the primary concerns with marketing Marvel characters to other brands, of course, is how fans of the source material will perceive what is ultimately presented to them. After all, comic book fans are notoriously some of the hardest-to-please and easiest-to-offend fans, as evidenced by the brutal bashing of sub-par comic book movies over the past few years. However, Ennis expressed confidence in Marvel’s ability to nip such concerns in the bud by remaining true to what the company’s characters represent to the fans that have been following them for years.
“While Marvel owns these characters, it’s the fans who really own them, they’ve lived with them for so long, and been invested in their stories,” Ennis continued. “So if those characters do something that feels counter to their brand or who that character is, they will react, and our company is very sensitive to that. We do understand that there’s a way we can help a brand get a message across, that will resonate with our fans without being too heavy-handed or turning them away because it smells too much like marketing or sales.”
How does Marvel accomplish this? Well, for starters, they ensure that the integration of products feels organic, and that any stories being told mirror the current status quo of the Marvel Universe proper. Ennis would go on to reference a partnership between Marvel and Verizon, stating, “It’s not Hulk all of a sudden deciding he needs high speed wifi. Or Luke Cage isn’t on the Avengers anymore, so if you want an Avengers story, Luke Cage will not be in that story. If you want Luke Cage, then maybe it’s a Defenders story, and that’s the kind of nuance our team knows the fans will know instinctively.”
Of course, more so than the comics, when it comes to marketing partnerships, the number one avenue for most companies is movie tie-ins, like Baby Groot meeting with the GEICO gecko in a recent TV spot for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
Written and directed by James Gunn, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, and Kurt Russell. The film opens May 5.