Marvel Case

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Summarize the Situation
Marvel Enterprises Inc, is famously known for one of the most recognizable collections of characters in the entertainment industry. The proprietary library of over 4700 characters contributed to the success of the company, in which the characters have been featured in various media forms for over 70 years. However due to various issues, Marvel was forced to file for bankruptcy in the late 1990s. Nevertheless after Toy Biz, Inc. acquired the company out of bankruptcy, it formed a new board and a new strategic direction. The three key strategies that can be identified to Marvel's success are: 1) monetizing the content library via licensing characters for the use of media products and consumer products i.e. motion pictures, apparel 2) managing the library of characters to foster long-term value (each character with a career plan) 3)ensure quality of the content that featured Marvel characters by retaining some form of control over the creative process.1 Despite Marvel's remarkable rise, doubts were raised about the business model and its growth potential. Two key marketing issues are believed to be critical as there exist mounting concerns about Marvels' future success. Firstly, the issue is with regards to what characters to invest in from the collection. The question raised was whether Marvel should continue to capitalize on the "blockbuster" characters or allocate resources to the lesser-known characters. Secondly, Marvel's management faced the issue whether it was wise for the company to go beyond the current business model and move into capital-intensive activities i.e. content production and distribution to the forefront.2 Proposed Idea(s)

Marvel should focus on shifting gears towards the lesser-known characters and develop them by pairing or grouping them in films. Secondly, Marvel should continue to follow the 1 Elberse, Anita, "Marvel Enterprises, Inc." Harvard Business School. 5 May 2005. Pg.4 2 ibid pg. 12

current business model in terms of the way their properties are brought to the market for publishing, toys and licensing. However Marvel should focus on capital-intensive activities of its characters with the studios for use in motion pictures. Marvel should seek strategic partnerships with studios and be heavily involved two areas: a) story-writing/creative process b) marketing How it Works

Marvel will launch the lesser-known characters by coupling them in groups/pairs or with "blockbuster" characters and allow the company to build awareness while capturing the audience's attention. By grouping the lesser-known characters with "blockbuster" characters or other promising lesser-known characters, Marvel will be able to showcase and expose the attributes of a diverse character base. Following the steps of Daredevil(2003),the character Elecktra was introduced in the film as the girlfriend of blind lawyer Matt Murdock3. Consequently in 2005, Elektra was the independent character in her own blockbuster release in 2005. Secondly, Marvel will invest in capital-intense activities by forming strategic partners with studios like Sony, Lionsgate, Universal etc. to be heavily involved in the story-writing/creative process and marketing. By leveraging the core strengths of its well-known writers and artists that lead the publishing division and key talents (writers) from the film industry, Marvel should invest heavily in idea generation and story writing. As the origins of most stories are from the Marvel library, by having primary responsibility in the creative process, Marvel will be able to best integrate new characters and story lines to studio partners. By working alongside studio writers, Marvel will be able to "create content" instead of "assist" as mentioned by Peter Cuneo.4 Furthermore, by being directly involved in the marketing with 3 Elberse, Anita, "Marvel Enterprises, Inc." Harvard Business School. 5 May 2005. Pg.19 4 Elberse, Anita, "Marvel Enterprises, Inc." Harvard Business School....
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