Marvel is already a household name in entertainment (even my mom has heard of them!) and now, they are taking steps to move out of the traditional outlets, and become an all-out lifestyle brand, starting with their new Instagram: Styled By Marvel.
The account features primarily fashion at this point, but also includes food and drink, and will no doubt expand into anything that could be considered "style". I'm imagining hair and makeup, accessories, even home decor.
Paul Gitter, SVP Marvel Licensing at Disney Consumer Products spoke to Pret-a-Reporter about the idea behind the project.
At its core, we simply want to show everyone that Marvel can be integrated into our daily lives by highlighting everyday fashion with a hint of Marvel. We'd like to provide fun tips and ideas along the way that highlight the amazing merchandise we have available. We want to ensure that everyone sees Marvel not just as a film studio, but as a trendsetting brand that includes lifestyle products.
It's no secret that Marvel has been intentionally reaching out more to female fans, with an increasing number of women's clothing lines (including the Her Universe line pictured above) and female-focused books and characters (new Thor, anyone?). To me, this is a fairly obvious extension of their attempts to appeal to the fastest-growing demographic of comic fans.
For one thing, every image on the page features a woman. Of the photos that do not include a face or body, one showcases the Loki dress and another shows a to-go coffee with an iPhone and lipstick. There are currently twelve photos posted, and only one is gender-neutral, showing a hand holding a Guardians popcorn tub. Even that, however, appears to be held on top of a white clutch purse.
So what is going on here? Marvel already has an Instagram, which seems to do a perfectly good job of keeping fans up-to-date on the goings on of the company. The difference is that this one will not be covering Marvel's presence at conventions, or traditional news, but is all about the look.
The question is, is this a bad thing? I am certain that some people will roll their eyes and see it as obvious pandering - Marvel attempting to seem more inclusive. Or perhaps it is just an attempt to cash in; the photos often promote where you can buy a product featured (like that Spiderman phone case), and women are fast becoming a bigger market for comic books than men, if some of the stats from convention attendees are to be believed.
The other breed of fan who may be less-than-impressed with this move are the elitists; those who love to throw around the terms "real fan" and "fake geek girl". With the increasing popularity of comic book culture, some people feel that it's becoming too common to see people wearing clothing or referencing the movies without having read the books themselves. For these people, Marvel actively attempting to make their brand more mainstream is nothing short of sacrilege.
Personally though, I have no patience for elitists, and I think that this is a fantastic move on the part of Marvel. Yes, because it is aimed at women, and that shows a long-overdue recognition of women as legitimate comic book fans, but it's not just about that.
It's also a fantastic move because it doesn't make the assumption that comic book fans (of either gender) fit the stereotypical "nerd" look or lifestyle. There's no dowdy or awkward Amy Farrah-Fowler types in these photos; they are the same kinds of women that you would see on any "style" instagram.
If the clothing shown didn't have the Marvel images on them, you would assume that you were looking at any other fashion/lifestyle blog out there, and I think that this is a great way to break down some of the preconceptions that people may have about female fans.
I'm hoping that if and when this takes off, that Marvel will be encouraged to keep expanding their "style" lines of merchandise. I would love to have a wider range of clothing and accessories, and with the roll that Marvel is currently on, I wouldn't be surprised if we start to see them really branch out - Marvel martini mix, maybe? (Actually, I would be really excited if Marvel started branding cocktails based on characters..)
I will definitely keep following it to see where Marvel intends to take this project, and I'll keep hoping that it is not just an advertising platform for existing products, but a launch-pad for all kinds of new ones. It definitely seems that this is part of the plan.
As the Marvel brand grows in popularity with the success of film, TV, comic, digital and live-event initiatives, it is important to us to show that it is a broadly appealing brand, and our main posts are going to serve our large female base, since they have been a big part of Marvel's success.
How do you feel about this new project for the company?