When I first discovered the Marvel-ous world of comic books as a youth (I’ve since come to appreciate DC properties in their own right), I got sucked in by some great storytelling (the art was cheesy, but would get better and attract premier illustrators) about superheroes with human problems. Spiderman was also Peter Parker, the high school nerd who got bullied. Iron Man was Tony Stark, a millionaire industrialist with a drinking problem. Daredevil was an attorney, who also happened to be blind.
Little did I know at the time that comics books would grow from a small publishing business target-marketing kids and young adults into a mega-entertainment industry encompassing print, digital, graphic novels, major Hollywood movies and TV shows, theme park rides, video games, toys and collectibles, licensed products, and major consumer/trade shows.
The ads that supported comics used to look like this.
Now, sponsors like Butterfinger take hospitality suites at ComiCon.
It took a few decades, plus the emergence of extra-special special effects and CGI that led to big-budget summer movie-making and comic book character franchise launches, to totally transform comic books into a cultural phenomenon. Now, that time reading 25 cent comics under a backyard tree seems like a galaxy far, far away.
How did it happen? It began with great content. Content that stood the test of time. Content that got reprinted and repurposed. Content that inspired new generations of writers and artists and filmmakers to offer their take on beloved characters.
Marketing content is different than entertainment content. But right now there are too many companies who settle for commoditized solutions that all blend together. Trust an imaginative writer, a gifted artist, a talented filmmaker to tell the story of your company. Give prospects and customers a reason to get excited about the products and services they buy from you. Take a page or two from Stan Lee, visionary. Content will always be king.