D.C. Comics 'kill' Superman
Whether we're talking art or not, D.C. Comics is, yes, a business, generating approximately $40 billion in revenue each year. So it's not surprising that many people felt that releasing a comic book in 1993 called The Death of Superman was a marketing stunt, given that nobody with half a brain really, truly thought this company was going to stop producing its most popular title, a hit since the Superman character was born in 1938. (According to a recent estimate published in Entertainment Weekly, since that time, Superman has generated some $4 billion in revenue.)
What happened next:
The news media covered this development extensively, not quite as if a head of state had passed away, but seriously enough, and the comic book featuring his death sold out on the first day.
As more issues were published, they kept selling out. In fact, millions of readers purchased not just The Death of Superman issue but numerous others that followed, including Funeral for a Friend and eventually - who would have guessed? - The Return of Superman.
If you have a popular product but feel that sales are stagnant or your customers' excitement toward the brand is weaning, it may not be a bad idea to tinker with it. "Well, not so fast," you're probably thinking. "Jump into a time machine and see how people felt about New Coke in 1985."
But that wasn't a marketing stunt, it was a colossal business mistake that offered numerous marketing challenges, which Coke eventually conquered, by reverting back to its original formula. Businesses revamp their products all the time, whether it's coming out with a "new and improved" formula that truly is new and improved (unlike Coca-Cola's 1985 misfire).
But more often than not, instead of replacing the product, companies now just add new varieties to their line. What Superman and other beloved brands can teach us is that if you can create some drama around your product--and tug at your consumers' emotions, you may just find that your potential for bringing in a profit is, well, super.
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