Idea Generator: Who would win in a Marketing war — Westeros or Asgard?


Looking back over the past decade, Marvel has clearly deployed a very successful brand strategy that has kept their movies and characters top of mind for old fans and new fans alike. How did they do it better than their competitor DC Comics? Marvel developed a very well thought out plan for their brand, starting with singular movies for each of the individual heroes (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America) to introduce non-main stream characters to a wider audience. They used these baby steps to build up their brand engagement, and then brought all the characters together in the Avengers series connecting multiple fan bases and their income generating potential.


A huge buzz word in marketing for the last several years has been authenticity, as brands have strived to reflect their true values and connect with consumers that also share those values. One of the most important decisions that both Marvel and HBO made was to be truly authentic to the seriousness of the franchises. For example, comic book fans are passionate aficionados with embedded loyalties from as far back as childhood. They may keep their love of graphic novels on the DL, but they are serious and dedicated when it comes to knowledge of the ‘verse and have strong opinions about their beloved characters.


One thing that has come through in the all the online chatter and build up to this season of Game of Thrones is how powerful the women characters have become. This is not just a random plot twist. For many seasons, George R. R. Martin and producers have done what all good marketers do and worked hard at keeping the show relevant. They listened to their audience, they did a landscape assessment and realized a major part of their fan base was women. Using this feedback they developed and nurtured the female GOT characters to reflect that audience’s feedback. The strategy has been successful, since even an outside observer can see that the female leads have prominent marketing positions and some of the most interesting story arcs.

And The Winner Is

According to a Google trends analysis between 2011 and today, Game of Thrones is the clear winner based on search volume alone. There are several explanations for this, one potentially being that Game of Thrones initially had a much bigger brand awareness hurdle than Avengers. Marvel has been nurturing the Avengers brand for over half a century so slightly less ‘curiosity’ or discovery around the brand. Game of Thrones was a slow burn but as you can see from below, the popularity increased significantly in 2017/2018.

Google Trends analysis for Avengers (red) and Game of Thrones (blue) between 2011 and April 2019.

Vision and creativity are nothing without a strategy.

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