When most people read comic books, it’s an escape from reality. But to those in search of connecting with their own desirable demographic — specifically, guys in their 20s — that doesn’t mean a whole lot. And so, product placements have come to the comics world. And the advertisers involved are not small potatoes.
The Wall Street Journal notes that Marvel Entertainment has worked in the Nike swoosh onto a character’s T-shirt and on a car door in its books recent months. "We are always looking for new and interesting ways of connecting with our consumers," says Nate Tobecksen, a Nike spokesman, told the Journal. "This is certainly one of them."
DC Comics, which is owned by Time Warner, is releasing a new comic book, Rush City, in which the hero, The Rush, drives a Pontiac Solstice.
"The car will be as essential to the character as the Aston Martin was to James Bond," says David McKillips, vice president of advertising and custom publishing for DC Comics, according to the Journal.
The paper also notes that Marvel and Chrysler just signed a deal so that Marvel books “may feature Dodge's new car, the Caliber, in the books' cityscapes, including on billboards, T-shirts or signs over the next four to eight months.”
Gordon Hodge, who follows the comic books business for Thomas Weisel Partners, told the Journal that the “market is worth about $400 million to $450 million, with Marvel controlling about 37% and DC capturing around 33%.”
Some comic readers, the Journal points out, aren’t fans of the new product placements. Chuck Rozanski, founder of Mile High Comics, a comics retailer in Denver, tells the Journal, "The comic environment is designed to take you away from reality for a moment. Here we are thrusting offensive marketing products from our world into this fantasy world."