Brand Managing the Superheroes · Babson Thought & Action

by Anna Munhin Jun 7, 2023 News
Brand Managing the Superheroes · Babson Thought & Action

June 7, 2020.

June is when the summer blockbuster season begins.

That means more sequel. There's a lot of them. New installments of Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible, Fast and the Furious, Transformers, Book Club, and Spider-Man are some of the films that have been released this season.

There are a lot of movies that revisit places and characters that people are familiar with.

Movie studios want that familiarity. When you can rely on a film franchise that is already popular, you shouldn't take a risk on an original story. Rich Hanna is a professor of practice in marketing at Babson College.

Nowadays in this age of streaming, some film franchises include not only a head-spinning amount of movies but also TV shows as well. Disney+ has two expansive movie universes that include multiple TV shows.

There is a question of can there be too much of a good thing. The more sequels and shows are added, the more unwieldy and complicated they become, and the more likely they are to get backlash from different groups of people.

The more complicated the story gets, the harder it is to make everyone happy. The attempts to keep everyone happy might not be as successful as they used to be.

The Rise of Streaming

A lot of time has been spent thinking about the marketing and management of pop culture brands. He was a fan of brands when he was a kid. He thinks he was 7 years old when the first Star Wars movie came out. Everything is changed by Star Wars. It makes me think about what could happen and what isn't. I heard it speak to me.

Rich Hanna
Rich Hanna, professor of practice in marketing at Babson College

After 46 years since the first movie came out, streaming services need content for their millions of subscribers, and they are turning to established brands such as Star Wars to create it. The need for content has increased due to streaming television. The people are asking for more.

It's possible that that demand has limits. Disney+ lost 4 million subscribers in the first three months of the year, the second quarter in a row it has lost subscribers.

Since the second highest grossing movie of all time, "Avengers: Endgame," was released in March of this year, there has been a noticeable change in the way movies are released. Lucasfilm hasn't released a new Star Wars movie in over a year.

New Vs. Old

These long-time brands need to navigate multiple audiences in order to remain successful. Some brands put out books and video games that casual fans may not want to keep up with. people get tired of it People can't stay with the storyline over time. It becomes more complicated.

Potential new fans may be intimidated by the amount of existing content. People don't want to be involved in it. "It's too complex."

Efforts to keep things fresh, in an effort to reach these newer and more casual fans, may face fierce resistance from the more fanatical corners of the fan base. How much do you devote to the hardcore fans? That is a difficult question to answer. Even though brands don't want to sacrifice newcomers, they do want to keep their most passionate fans.

It can be hard to balance the needs of both. Take a look at the final trilogy of the Skywalker saga. The new trilogy takes liberties with the story and characters that were popular in the past. Efforts to correct course in the final chapter of the trilogy proved clumsy.

It is hard to see. The edited version doesn't make sense. The last Star Wars movie is a case study in how to make people dislike you.

Critics and Trolls

Critics are not the only ones that brands should keep in mind. Critics online have developed followings and their reviews are collected by review aggregations The people drive rotten tomatoes. They look at everything that has been done and make mistakes.

The troll can turn sexist and racist. The introduction of new superhero characters who are women and of Asian descent has been the target of trollers. There are people in the world who hate on things that aren't mainstream. They try to destroy these efforts before they start.

“The more complex the story becomes, the more difficult it becomes to make everyone happy.”

Rich Hanna, professor of practice in marketing

The problems of the real world are not immune to the problems of fictional universes. White males wrote a lot of superheros. He says we have to evolve. There is a vocal minority who try to ruin it for everyone. They have a strong voice.

The brand needs a strong leader who understands the brand's story from the beginning to the end. He says you need someone who owns the story and someone who keeps you from going the wrong way.

There is research and insights.

Faculty, research, commentary.