Continuing its strategy of developing unique retail partnerships in a tough economic market, Marvel Entertainment is teaming with Gap unit Old Navy for a back-to-school promotion featuring exclusive Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men and character art on T-shirts, hoodies, outerwear and other store gear. Old Navy will support the effort with TV advertising and in-store materials.
The promo, which coincides with Marvel's 70th anniversary, will run in all of Old Navy's 1,000-plus U.S. and Canadian stores this month. Additionally, from Aug. 8-17, shoppers who purchase a Marvel Collectabilitee T-shirt will receive a limited-edition Amazing Fantasy #15 comic book reprint as a gift with purchase. The classic comic features the first appearance of Spider-Man.
Marvel's alliance with Old Navy began last spring when the retailer launched an exclusive collection of superhero T-shirts for boys and toddlers. It's one of several relationships the entertainment brand has cultivated to tap new revenue streams in a not-so-hot retail environment. A collection of Spider-Man bedding, lighting, play furniture, room décor and accessories debuted at Pottery Barn Kids last year, and a direct-to-retail deal will bring a full-scale licensing program to a new channel: drugstores. Marvel's initiative with Walgreens will apply Spidey, Iron Man, Hulk and others to toys, pet products, photo accessories, novelty candy, night lights, holiday decorations, automotive accessories and posters, among other items. That merchandise hits shelves in spring 2010.
Deals like these are part of a long-term strategy to extend the brand beyond traditional retail. "It's our way of showing growth -- especially with [today's] consolidation and categories and brands being eliminated from retailers," said Paul Gitter, Marvel Entertainment's president of consumer products for North America. "Were bucking the trend and sustaining our business."