It should surprise no one that Marvel Entertainment is bringing out the big guns for the consumer products program for Iron Man 2, as the film is set to roll out to theaters on May 7. Marvel president of North American consumer products Paul Gitter gives KidScreen Daily a peek inside the company’s upcoming initiatives for Iron Man’s second outing and its five-year portfolio-driven CP plan.
‘This program is much broader in scope in terms of product categories and much deeper in terms of retail relationships,’ says Gitter, adding that he expects the film to outperform the US$318.4 million in domestic box office receipts generated by the original.
While the licensee roster for the original numbered in the hundreds, including master toy partner Hasbro, Gitter says that this program has added more than 25 new licensees and a slew of different promotional partnerships.
For example, this time consumer goods behemoth Unilever is on-board. The company usually chooses one summer blockbuster to partner with and this year it’s inked an agreement to produce and distribute an Iron Man Ice Pop. ‘It will be offered through thousand of mobile vending units,’ says Gitter. ‘It’s a really nice way for us to get in front of kids.’
The program will also look a little beyond the core boy/fan-boy demos via a new deal with t-shirt maven Mighty Fine that’s targeting females between 14 and 35 with retro Iron Man tees.
On the promo side, 7-Eleven, Burger King and Audi are all returning for tie-ins, while new comer Dr. Pepper is featuring Iron Man’s metallic mug on a special series of the soda’s cans all summer long.
In terms of retail, Marvel has recently launched an exclusive co-branded program with the rock band AC/DC in all Walmart locations in the US. The promotion includes themed in-store feature shops as well as exclusive co-branded AC/DC Iron Man 2 t-shirts.
‘We’re expecting Iron Man to really fall in line with Spider-Man in terms of becoming a true evergreen property for Marvel,’ says Gitter. ‘This will live beyond the traditional 14 to 16 week selling cycle.’
Marvel’s approach to the franchise is both long-term and expansive. With a five-year strategy that includes big screen adventures for stalwart IPs such as The Incredible Hulk and Thor (expected to be swinging the hammer at the local multiplex next summer), Marvel has signed several portfolio-wide licensing deals. The culmination of the plan will be the summer 2012 release of The AvengersM that will feature a super-group of Marvel heroes. The long-term approach is attractive to potential partners, says Gitter.
‘We are trying to do portfolio deal that would bring (partners) in for the whole thing,’ he says. ‘It makes the partner feel like they are more invested in the property and gives the retailer confidence that we will be working with the same partners over a period of time.’
While Marvel was acquired by Disney in the third quarter of 2009, Gitter says that the licensing program surrounding Iron Man 2 was not altered by the sale. ‘When useful, we will tap into the Disney machine and look for opportunities to use their expertise,’ he says. ‘But this time, Marvel has kept this program within the confines of Marvel.’