when brands collide
Posted by Nic Musolino on September 2, 2009 03:19 PM
As you read earlier this week (unless you were locked up in Arkham Asylum), Disney is buying Marvel. A triumph for the current leadership at Marvel, considering past regimes have pushed the company right up to the edge (and over) of insolvency a couple times, even as arch-nemesis DC Comics trundled along, safe under the Time Warner umbrella.
The benefits to Disney are obvious: they have always understood the value of franchise characters and need to buy some revenue pronto. And Marvel, finally seeing an exit that wouldn’t result in shareholders comically running in place before they plunged into the freezing waters of Chapter 11 Ravine, must be more than pleased.
The takeaway for brand managers is that even if the corporate structure is wrong-headed, defending your property always has long term value. Comic editors are notoriously fussy, geeky, and generally obsessive of the proper maintenance of continuity — a constitution that reflects their loyal, vocal fan base. The consequent stability tends to produce brands that can be almost infinitely extended and monetized.
That equation wasn't lost on Time Warner, which was happy to sustain low returns from DC while putting out high quality product — a more than justifiable loss leader, as Batman and Superman threw off literally billions in licensing revenue.
The verve with which Disney protects Mickey Mouse and his cohort bode well for fans of Ghost Rider and Dr. Strange. You're unlikely to see awkward crossovers anytime soon — even if the premise of a buddy film featuring Howard the Duck and Daffy Duck is pretty funny.