I’m so looking forward to watching The Avengers movie when it opens in the UK on 26th April.
Only it’s not called ‘The Avengers’ over here.
Nope – in a wonderful move of marketing confusion, the movie’s been lumbered with the moniker ‘Avengers Assemble’.
And all because of a TV show that ran from 1961 – 1969 in the UK (see pic below left), with bowler-hatted spy John Steed (Patrick Macnee) being accompanied by a number of shagtastic hotties over 5 series.
A movie starring Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman was made in 1998, but it sunk without trace, being nominated for 9 categories in the Golden Raspberry awards.
Here’s how I imagine the discussion went at Marvel Studios:
Number two: “Sir, we’ve got a problem with the Avengers movie name.”
Number One: “Don’t tell me Warner Bros. owns the rights.”
Number two: “No, it’s not as bad as that sir, but it could affect our UK audience figures. Google tells me that The Avengers was a spy show running in the 1960s.”
Number one: “Like James Bond?”
Number two: “Um, not exactly. More like Austin Powers on a shoestring budget.”
Number one: “So what’s the problem?”
Number two: “Well sir, with people who associate the name ‘The Avengers’ with the TV show, there’s a slim chance that they’ll get confused by the movie poster and so may not want to watch our movie.”
Number one: “And how old are these people likely to be?”
Number two: “Probably between 45 and 70.”
Number one: “And how old is our target audience?”
Number two: “7-35.”
Number one: “Hmmm. What could we change the name to?”
Number two: “Well, our marketing team have thought about it for a whole 90 seconds and decided that the team’s catchphrase would be best.”
Number one: “And that is…?”
Number two: “Avengers Assemble.”
Number one: “Say what?”
Number two: “Avengers Assemble. They say it every time they go into battle.”
Number one: “Even in today’s comics?”
Number two: “Um, yes sir.”
Number one: “Sounds like something a Transformer would say. So how much would a name change cost?”
Number two: “At least a quarter of a million dollars.”
Number one: “God damn! What would be the repercussions of changing the name?”
Number two: “Apart from the cost, only a heap of adverse fan feedback, and people thinking that we’ve lost our marbles.”
Number one: “But would that stop them going to see the film?”
Number two: “Nope – 90% of potential viewers in the UK will have already seen one of the solo superhero films, have watched one of the trailers, or have read the comics. We’ve already got them hooked. And 9% are parents who get dragged along by their kids. We’re worried about the remaining 1%”
Number one: “Well, what are you waiting for? Make it so!”
Okay, I’m being slightly facetious, but it highlights a valid point. How important is the name of your product? And, more crucially, should you change it once it’s already in place?
Lost in Translation
There have been some horror stories about products launching with names that translate badly abroad. For example, the UK car maker Vauxhall released a model called the ‘Nova’, not realising that the word translates in Spanish as ‘it won’t go’. There’s a hilarious list of marketing translation mistakes at http://www.i18nguy.com/translations.html
On the other hand, ‘Twitter’ is probably a rude word in Mongolian, but that hasn’t stopped it being mega-successful.
Should You Change Your Comic’s Name?
I’ve thought before about changing the name of my website. I chose ‘The Comic Academy’ a couple of years ago when I was thinking about covering a broader topic than just Comic Book Marketing. And in any case, at the time comicbookmarketing.com had already been registered (it came up for sale about a year ago, at which point I registered it and redirected it to this site).
The name still causes confusion, with some people thinking that the site trains comedians, or that it’s some sort of multi-faceted school instead of just little old me.
I could still rebrand, but most of my followers know this site as The Comic Academy, and it’s a technical and logistical pain to change your URL and your ID on Twitter and Facebook whilst trying to keep your followers. Plus it’s not my highest priority task. Maybe one day…
If you haven’t yet decided a name for your business, character, comic or other product, just keep the following in mind:
- Is it simple? Does it trip off the tongue?
- Does it convey what you are trying to achieve with that character/product, and what you may want to achieve in the future?
- Has the name already been used elsewhere, and possibly copywrited? If so, then try to think up something unique.
- Does the name translate badly overseas? Remember, even British and Americans use different terms of phrase that can become embarrassing or confusing across the pond (in the UK there’s a brand of dog food called ‘Barf’!).
But at the end of the day, you should only really change a well-established name when there’s a very good reason for doing so (like the risk of getting sued, or the name no longer reflecting what the business or product is about).
I’m sure Marvel had a very good reason for changing the movie name, but I can’t for the life of me think what it was!
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All the best,
The Comic Academy
Phil Hampton founded The Comic Academy to help comic and webcomic creators and entrepreneurs market their work and make money in the comic book industry. Download your FREE exclusive report ‘The 7 Steps to Comic Creator Success’ at http://www.TheComicAcademy.com