Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2004 (Revised May 2005)

Marvel Enterprises, Inc.

by Anita Elberse


The management team of Marvel Enterprises, known for its universe of superhero characters that includes Spider-Man, the Hulk, and X-Men, must reevaluate its marketing strategy. In June 2004, only six years after the company emerged from bankruptcy, Marvel has amassed a market value of more than $2 billion. Originally known as a comic book publisher, the company now also has highly profitable toy, motion picture, and consumer products licensing operations. However, doubts about Marvel's business model and its growth potential continue to exist. Had Marvel's winning streak been just a fluke? Was marvel's success dependent on a limited set of blockbuster characters, most notably Spider-Man, and should Marvel continue to capitalize on those characters? Or was it time to seek growth in a larger set of lesser known characters? In exploring growth opportunities, was it wise for Marvel to venture outside its current business model and move into more capital-intensive activities? What marketing strategy would allow Marvel to sustain its success in the coming years? Includes color exhibits.

Keywords: Intellectual Property; Business Model; Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Opportunities; Growth and Development Strategy; Rights; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;


Elberse, Anita. "Marvel Enterprises, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 505-001, November 2004. (Revised May 2005.)