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Marvel Comics TVs: You're Doing It Wrong

Written by Dooz on Monday, March 01 2010 and posted in Features

Outhouse marketing expert Dooz weighs in with his thoughts on the latest Marvel marketing scheme.

When Branding Goes Bad: Marvel Comics TVs

Note: While writing about brand strategy at The Short Shift, I occasionally run across a story that involves comics and comics companies. This is the first, and look for an interview with former Marvel Comics Advertising Director Joe Maimone later this week.

So, Marvel Comics has decided to brand TVs with puffy stickers.

Last week, io9 published an article about the new Marvel Comics character branded TVs from RTC23.  Just let the lead image sink in for a bit….ok…

Now that you’re done with that, let’s talk about why this is a good idea gone wrong:

First off, and this is the easy one, it’s a bit of a juvenile niche entry into a relatively big-ticket item category.  I’m not going to deride the sort of consumer base who would go for something like this, but I don’t think it’s as big as either Marvel or RTC23 are hoping.  Yes, Marvel is a licensing machine, the biggest reason behind the Mouse House’s decision to scoop up the House of Ideas late last year, but this particular niche branding strategy seems a bit of a stretch.  I just don’t see people chomping at the bit to bring Marvel branding into their homes in this way, which brings us to the next point.

I do, however, see a great benefit in branding home entertainment centers beyond electronic manufacturers’ static brand marks.  In fact, there’s already a great way to do it that keeps the TV itself mark-free: digital media center interfaces.  Plex and XBMC offer very open and robust skin options, and the Sony offers customizable theme options for the PS3, so why stick to static branding when you can create immersive and engaging in-media experiences?

When Branding Goes Bad: Marvel Comics TVs
This is happening. Right now. Courtesy of XBMC's Aeon skin.

Yes, these are free options, not a lot of room for licensing dollars, and there’s not a huge population of consumers with digital media centers (yet), but it does present an opportunity to develop a rich and interactive consumer-brand experience.  If companies truly want to get more out of their branding dollars, they’re going to have to get past the notion of packaging being the only way to go.  Technology is moving in such a direction that interactive in-home electronic brand appearances are becoming the norm, and skinning/theme-ing/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is a powerful tool in the brand engagement department.  I won’t begrudge Marvel the opportunity to generate licensing revenue, just as I won’t begrudge RTC23 using well respected characters/brands to sell their product, but I will say that such a static strategy pales in comparison to the type of branding-as-content today’s technology allows.

Full Disclosure: in the mid to late ’90s, I slept on/under Marvel Comics themed bedding and owned one of the coolest sheets ever made.

More brand strategy ramblings at The Short Shift


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