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Marvel, DC, Stan Lee and YOU: Marketing tips from comics

Eager for a little help to take your marketing campaigns from mundane to Marvel?


Need to turn your marketing content from Downright Crap to Different Class?

Look to the sky, summon the superheroes, and get ready to put some real KAPOW into your marketing strategy. Because superheroes have an almost unparalleled brand longevity … and that hasn’t happened by accident.



Four lessons every brand can learn from our superheroes:

1. Take a stance - fight the good fight


Stan Lee, considered the godfather of superheroes, was the creative force behind a myriad of household names including Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk. His monthly column Stan’s Soapbox was a popular feature in Marvel comic books from 1965 to 2001.

While these were written in response to reader letters, Stan could never be accused of ducking the big issues. Just like the superheroes he created, he tackled them head on – even if it meant vehemently disagreeing with a reader, which it often did because he was way ahead of his time.


Iconic comic book writer Stan Lee, who died last year, was the brains behind a number
of superheroes including Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four.
Picture: Facebook 


From racism to civil rights, Stan was never afraid to call out opinions that he – and his brand – objected to. And in doing so, he created a stronger brand, and a deeper sense of belonging and identity for his legions of followers.Stan’s Soapbox also provided a direct line from readers to Marvel HQ, giving the company a better idea of what their customers wanted.


Superhero marketing tip:

The world is full of ‘safe’ content, ‘safe’ brands and ‘safe’ opinion. The brands who stand out have true personality, aren’t afraid to take a stance and are confident in who they are.

This, in turn, helps form connections with consumers, as they see what you stand for – and are trying to make an impact on – things that matter to them. Look for the intersection between what your brand stands for and what matters to your customers and target customers, and start playing there.

2. Be open to intelligent brand partnerships

DC Comics’ parent company Warner Bros.’ 2008 trip to Denmark to visit the home of Lego was notable for a few reasons – particularly because people usually come to Warner Bros.

Lego, only a few years after almost going bankrupt, was hesitant about making a movie – they’d watched Hasbro enjoy little success from Transformers a year before.

Eventually, an agreement was reached and The Lego Movie was made in 2014, to great financial success for both parties. It earned a spot on the list of the highest grossing media franchises ever with an estimated revenue of $3.57 billion, including $2.46bn in merchandise sales and $904m at the box office.


Lego’s partnership with Warner Bros. has sent it straight to the top of the toy market’s box office


On the back of the film’s success, Lego claimed the title of the No.1 toy company in the world, surpassing rival Mattel in terms of total revenue for the first time.

That success led to the creation of The Lego Batman movie – an ambitious cross-promotion of two huge brands through genuinely awesome content.  It was the stuff marketers’ dreams are made of and it paid off handsomely for both. The movie earned $312 million at the box office from a budget of $80 million and further grew Lego and Batman’s foothold in popular culture.


Superhero marketing tip:

Smart brands always have an eye on tomorrow. But to get there you don’t always have to go it alone. Identify brands who you can partner with for mutual benefit.

Seek out the brands that have already built an audience you would love access to, and figure out what you can offer each other. The Warner Bros. and Lego partnership may not have seemed immediately obvious, but bringing together what the two companies do best reaped serious rewards.

3.  Tell your story

From the moment baby Kal-El arrived on Earth in a spaceship from Krypton, the bullied Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and Bruce Wayne witnessed his parents’ murder, a purpose was created that underpinned everything they have gone on to do.

Told well, their story creates understanding – even when their actions may seem out of character – and forms a real connection with the audience. We know what motivates them, we understand. We want them to win.


Superman has transcended comics to become a well-known brand in his own right. 


Superhero marketing tip:

Forget the overdone cliches that pervade many ‘brand stories’, and be open, honest and tell people what’s driving you. Be real. Show your audience that behind your brand there are people – real life humans – who each have stories, too.

Don’t just let your audience peek behind the curtain – open the curtain wide and show them what makes your brand unique. Bring the employees who share your brand values to the fore – make them stars. They are your brand, after all.

4. Never stand still

The businesses powering the superheroes are fantastic at continually growing their universe.

Not satisfied with creating some of the most popular characters ever known, they keep adding and creating, introducing new superheroes, such as Aquaman, who not only deepen the context of what has gone before but also set us on a whole new path to follow.

The powerhouses are never afraid to evolve a character too (could you imagine Christian Bale playing Batman the way Adam West did?) while remaining true to the elements of the character that make him who he is.

Superhero marketing tip:

You should never rely on the products that made last year a success doing the same again, so it’s imperative to keep your product offering evolving – without throwing out old favorites because they’re, well, old.

Find out what your customers and potential customers may be open to – test new ideas, new concepts on them and then roll them out. But always remember to test which current products are worth hanging onto, too.

Remember, use these tips wisely.

After all, with great power comes great responsibility.


Take your brand from mundane to Marvel


Make sure your brand is different class, not downright crap, with a little help from Interpris. In just a few clicks you can understand what your customers are saying about you, and discover your competitive edge.