Marvel remains one of Disney's most valuable properties, home to some of its most seminal characters, but it started out as a comic book company, and is keen to divert audiences of its TV and movie output to the origins of its most iconic stories, the comic book store.
The company is finally going to utilise the sheer volume of people enjoying its properties on screens- big and small - by serving them relevant ads in a bid to drive traffic to comic book stores where iconic characters from X-Men, the Avengers, Spider-Man and more, first found life.
Marvel made the announcement last week, claiming that it will primarily promote upcoming crossover event, ‘Secret Empire’ to fans of Marvel shows and movies. It served as a relatively surprising announcement considering that the Disney-owned property has been promoting its movies and games in favour of the comics for as long as they've been popular.
As of February 2017 according to Diamond Comics, Marvel held a 37.46% retail share of the comic book market, a slither ahead of rival DC Entertainment at 30.23%. It is keen to grow this inarguably massive audience by tapping into people already enjoying Marvel properties.
David Gabriel, senior vice president of sales and marketing with Marvel, told The Drum it has advertised on TV previously in a “limited fashion” but now it will mobilise fans of “to remind them that all the great stories from Marvel can be found in the local comic shop".
He added that these businesses will benefit from the geo-targeted ads that can direct consumers, all defacto Marvel fans on some level, to these locations where hopefully, they'll pick up comics telling the stories of their favourite characters.
The launch of the Secret Empire event, and to a lesser extent, X-Men and Inhumans titles, will be promoted as part of the proposition that for fans, there is “no need to wait for the next movie or next TV episode as the next adventure is available around the corner”. The push appears to leverage around the sale of physical comics although the brand does also sell digital issues - which naturally don't quite hold the same appeal to collectors.
The activity will culminate in on-air commercials, in-theater pre-roll and live tv spots. Building on this work the company is also looking to embrace “third party marketing partners to reach our fans through a variety of new ways”.
Gabriel concluded: “Marvel Comics will always be on the forefront of innovation, in universe building, and now marketing to comic book fans with our geo-targeted messaging, smart ad serving, along with some additional activations we will be announcing soon.”