On April 4, Marvel Comics launches "Avengers vs. X-Men" #1, the start of the massive "AVX" event which puts two of comics' most popular teams on opposite sides of a battle to decide the fate of the entire Marvel Universe. In anticipation of the event's start and retailers' questions, David Gabriel, Marvel Entertainment's Senior Vice President of Sales, sent a letter to comic book retailers earlier this week containing an FAQ regarding "AvX."
Gabriel details Marvel's promotional strategy for the series and its tie-ins, sales incentives and initiatives, and stressed the event's accessibility to new readers of both teams as well as the Marvel Universe as a whole, calling it "the biggest and most ambitious story [Marvel has] ever told, one that fires on all cylinders and will have customers coming back every week to see where this story goes next." CBR News presents the full text of Gabriel's letter below.
To Marvel's Retail Partners,
As we approach the launch of "Avengers VS X-Men" #1 on April 4, Marvel is excited to see the early response from retailers, fans and press alike. It's the biggest and most ambitious story we've ever told, one that fires on all cylinders and will have customers coming back every week to see where this story goes next. I've put together a quick FAQ about "AvX" that covers many of the questions I've heard from retailers:
What makes "Avengers VS X-Men" so different from the recent events? Why should I order any heavier?
- We've brought together eight of the best creators in comics -- Brian Bendis, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction, John Romita JR, Olivier Coipel and Adam Kubert -- for a story that truly involves the ENTIRE Marvel Universe.
- Past events have allowed for certain groups of characters -- like the X-Men -- to sit on the sidelines but now with "AvX", an event of this magnitude demands every Marvel character be involved. And they all will have a role in this story.
- We're launching only one new tie-in series with "Avengers VS X-Men": VS, which focuses on (and expands) the fights only hinted at in what's an already action-packed main series. The rest of our tie-ins occur in our already ongoing series, each focusing on a story element that's important to the larger "Avengers VS X-Men" picture but doesn't require fans to diverge from the main series if they want to understand events.
- This is a truly new reader friendly event -- everything you need to know is covered in "Avengers VS X-Men" #1.
- To keep the momentum going we're shipping two issues of this series every month and every week from April through September will feature an exciting "Avengers VS X-Men" branded comic -- either the main series or tie-in -- to ensure fans come back week in and week out.
- We're mounting the largest Marvel Comics marketing campaign in history, investing more capital and resources into reaching new readers than ever before. You've seen the start of it last week, with "Avengers VS X-Men" online advertising on all the major comic sites to rally the core fans who're already talking about this series.
- This advertising includes:
- Radio, online, Facebook and targeted search engine media buys targeting comic book readers, lapsed fans, gamers and those who have seen Marvel Films
- National radio spots in targeted major markets
- Media buys on key pop culture and entertainment sites pushing consumers to comic stores via comic shop locator
- Sustained marketing buys across pre-on sale, on-sale and sustainment time periods
We're also making some major moves in social media, talking to the millions of Marvel fans we connect with every day through Marvel.com and Marvel's presence in social networking. including Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue, and innovative digital content like "AvX" BattleCenter on Marvel.com.
I know my core fans may be interested, but how is Marvel bringing new & lapsed readers into comic stores?
What kind of in-store support is Marvel offering for this story?
In our "Avengers VS X-Men" Launch Parties on April 3rd, retailers will be able to sell "Avengers VS X-Men" #1 at 8pm (local time), the day before the official on-sale and we expect a lot of fans showing up for these parties.All retailers who opt into the parties & choose a team will receive the following as part of the "Avengers VS X-Men" Party Kit:
- "Avengers VS X-Men" Program, a free comic previewing the upcoming event
- "Avengers VS X-Men" Postcards
- "Avengers VS X-Men" Customizable Flyer
- "Avengers VS X-Men" Customizable Press Release
- "Avengers VS X-Men" Backlist Sales
- "Avengers VS X-Men" mini posters
- "Avengers VS X-Men" promo items
- "Avengers VS X-Men" #1 Advance Screening Copy, delivered to retailers in late March 2012
- "Avengers VS X-Men" Party Lithographs
- Mass media promotion around the launch of "AvX" and the associated parties
- Promotion of parties to Marvel fan base via Marvel.com, Twitter and Facebook
- An additional discount on the Road to "Avengers VS X-Men" Trade Paperback
And these same retailers will receive complimentary team-specific versions-based on their allegiance-of the following:
- Exclusive "Avengers VS X-Men" #1 Spotlight Variant specific to the team supported by the store
- Free "Avengers VS X-Men" mini-posters showing store allegiance
- Free Avengers or X-Men Team Pins
- Free "Avengers VS X-Men" in-store signage and shelf-talkers
- Deep discount on "Avengers VS X-Men" #0
- Deep Discount on "Avengers VS X-Men" #1
- More incentives to be announced through the life of the series
- The retailers participating in the parties will also get discounts on select "Avengers VS X-Men" tie-ins and be able to participate in backlist collections sales.
What kind of sales incentives is Marvel offering on "Avengers VS X-Men"?
I saw that Marvel is attending SXSW in April. Will there be any discussion of "Avengers VS X-Men" at such a high profile event?
- Yes. We have historic developments in publishing that bring the worlds of print and digital together seamlessly in a way that will sell more comics, all spurred by "Avengers VS X-Men"
- These will drive more customers into comic shops and sell more copies of "Avengers VS X-Men". We feel we've found a great way to enhance the entire "AvX" experience for both fans and retailers. Which means everyone wins.
- We're also bringing "Avengers VS X-Men" to fans in a major way at each comic convention in which Marvel participates.
Marvel is selling this series day & date on their Marvel Comics app. How is that not going to hurt my sales?
- With every issue of the core "Avengers VS X-Men" series we're including codes for a free digital copy of the issue at no extra charge. Â This makes the print edition a better value than the digital version and incentivizes digital-only customers to visit their local comic store.
- Also, "Avengers VS X-Men" #1 includes access to the first look at the evolution of comic storytelling -- and that's again something we're giving readers for free, along with an extra-sized main story.
But how else do you plan to bring those "digital comics only" customers to comic stores for "Avengers VS X-Men"?
- We're launching another $5 Coupon program close to the release of "Avengers VS X-Men" #1. This follows the success of our $5 Digital To Print coupon program in January which pushed digital comics customers into comic stores.
- This new program will run longer than 24 hours, allowing even more digital comics fans to get these coupons and encouraging them to visit their local comic shop in time for "Avengers VS X-Men" #1.
What about mass media -- are you working with major outlets to make the general population aware of "Avengers VS X-Men"?
- Yes. We announced this story in print with USA Today and we've worked with numerous mainstream outlets -- Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Associated Press, NY Daily News and more -- to bring the "Avengers VS X-Men" message to new consumers.
- Since January we've been releasing new art and event information on a regular basis to our global media list.
- Marvel has also secured major national media placements for stories around the on-sale of "Avengers VS X-Men" #1 so that non-readers are aware of this story when it all begins.
- There will be a constant media push around this series for its entirety.
You're always saying these events change everything, but I'm understandably a bit jaded. Is everything going to be undone here? What's the payoff?
- When "Avengers VS X-Men" ends, the Marvel Universe will be a different place and the ramifications of certain actions by our major characters sets the tone for our new Marvel Universe.
- This is the most seismic shift at Marvel in a decade and one that all stems from the events of "Avengers VS X-Men". The new and lapsed readers we're targeting for this event will most definitely stick around for what comes next.
If anyone has any questions or concerns, please call or e-mail me. I'm always glad to talk to retailers about anything Marvel.
David GabrielSVP of Sales, Marvel Entertainment
Stay tuned to CBR News for more updates on "AvX."