Marvel Entertainment has experienced a lucrative decade. They have successfully transitioned into a colossal entertainment enterprise and have positioned themselves at the forefront of the industry. Their triumph was hard-won.

After reaching a peak in the early 1990s, the company’s finances began unraveling. A combination of lousy business strategy and bursting financial bubbles bankrupt the company. Marvel’s stock prices plummeted and investors prepared for battle as an internal war waged on for the next couple of years. The end of the chaos breathed new life into Marvel and revived what many saw as a corpse of a company.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s Marvel focused on bringing their comics to the full screen. Their success was not immediate. Originally Hollywood executives were producing Marvel movies, and thus reaped most of the profits. Marvel only received a small percentage of the film’s financial reward. This all changed when Merrill Lynch agreed to give Marvel access to enormous amounts of cash. Marvel could use this money to produce their own movies. The catch, if the films were unsuccessful Merrill Lynch would gain property rights to all of the Marvel characters. This risk blossomed into a victory. Marvel Entertainment achieved so much success that in 2009 Disney bought the company for over 4 billion dollars.

They had miraculously survived - the ship thought wrecked by the storm survived to see the dawn.

A blend of brilliant marketing strategies propped the company back up on their feet. Some strategies to take away from Marvel’s story include: how the company integrated storytelling with big data, how they catered to their original fan base while also attracting a new one, and how they built up hype for their products (movies in this case).

Big Data and Storytelling

Once Marvel accessed the means to produce their own movies, the company began collecting data on all of their comics. They created a massive database, which now contains all of the information regarding their characters including: relationships, different story arcs, and characters’ views on other characters within the Marvel Universe. With this database, Marvel can perform big data analytics and decipher the best characters and plot lines to develop. This helps to keep audiences captivated during a period where consumers have divided and limited attentions.

Marvel created a massive data base which contains all of the information regarding their characters.

In addition, Marvel has also created a consumer reward system. The Marvel films are all intertwined with one another and create a continuous and ever expanding Marvel Universe. The company has produced films for individual characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. These characters are all part of a superhero group known as the Avengers, which has also been turned into a film. Marvel connects all of their works together mimicking the style of serialized comic books. This approach encourages fans to consistently engage in Marvel, but also avoids alienating newcomers from joining the franchise.

Marvel connects all of their movies, mimicking the style of serialized comic books

Marvel’s Master Marketers

In addition to their skilled application of big data and storytelling, Marvel cracked open their audience. Before the company began producing movies, they already had a substantial fan base. Their big data analytics ascertained the types of storylines older fans wanted to see. Tapping into this nostalgia gratified their original fanbase. When they invested in advanced graphics, Marvel appealed to a brand new and younger audience.

The hype that surrounds Marvel media is the final cog in the Marvel machine. Marvel benefits from all that social media offers. Before a film is released, the company leaves little bread crumbs via social media. They give out small bits of information here and there, as a teaser for their fans. This builds suspense and creates a conversation around the film.

Marvels’ forged their way into the new era. Despite their dead-in-the-water years, the company has managed to create a multibillion dollar conglomerate. And thus, unleashed Marvel mania into the world.

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