Monday, October 25, 2010

Disney and Marvel Begin Cross-Marketing

Ever since it was announced last fall that Disney was going to bu Marvel, people have been wondering just what it was going to mean for both companies. One thing has always been taken as pretty much gospel fact, though: considering how much Disney has pushed "synergy" with every other company they have purchased, like ABC and ESPN, it was just a matter of time before Dinsey began cross-promotions with Marvel. The real question was when and what form would it take.

Well, now we have at least an idea of what the future is going to look like, because Disney and Marvel have announced two new cross-promotions coming in the next couple weeks: a series of TRON Variant covers across the Marvel Universe and a series of Marvel-themed covers for ESPN the Magazine -- one for each of the 31 NBA franchises.

Of the two I have to say the ESPN covers seem like a more natural, organic fit. Yes, it does smack a little of the recent announcement that Stan Lee was going to be doing a line of NHL-inspired superhroes. But still, a comic book cover depicting each of the NBA franchises as superhero teams isn't too crazy; at best it's kind of a fun gimmick and at worst, well, what harm can it do.

Plus, some of the covers are downright fantastic, particularly John Romita Jr.'s inspired take on his father's iconic splash page from Amazing Spider-man #50. This is almost too sweet to be real:

And most important, the gimmick seems to be working on some level; just google "marvel espn covers" or some variation and you'll see ream after ream of blog and newspaper articles about the covers, with local fans for each market debating the merits of their cover. That has to be a positive thing for Marvel even in markets that don't like the covers. For what it's worth, here's my local team, the Celtics:

All in all, it's not a half bad start for the Marvel/Disney marketing team.

Less successful. on the other hand, is the series of TRON Variant covers being slapped onto Marvel books over the next two months. I just don't get the connection at all. While I'm sure on some level there was the thought that Marvel might benefit from TRON fans picking up the comics, I have a hard time seeing that happening, mainly because there's just no connection at all between TRON and the Marvel characters. I dunno. On the face of things these two marketing campaigns may seem similar, but the TRON one really seems forced to me.

That's not to say that the art isn't cool; the Ghost Rider cover, featuring him on a light cycle, is a clever idea and this Captain America cover, for example, is pretty darn awesome:

But the whole thing just seems random, like a Burger King toy tie-in instead of a natural synergy between the two companies. And actual TRON comic book? Sure. Thor drawn as though he were in TRON? That I don't really get.

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