On History: Malibu Commercials

By | Tuesday, January 02, 2018 3 comments
One of the things I used to hear was that television advertising simply didn't work for comics. Between the internet and digital recording, it certainly wouldn't work now, but up through the 1990s at least, there was something of a debate on whether TV spots could help sell more comics. On the one hand, you had people saying there was simply an issue with awareness and commercials would go a long way to letting the viewing public know that comics were still out there and could be found at local comics shops. On the other hand, you had people saying, "Look, Marvel had daily, half-hour, subsidized commercials for G.I.Joe and Transformers (in the guise of cartoons) and those didn't move the needle appreciably. Why would you think a 30 second spot is going to work?"

Malibu Comics tried a few spots anyway when they launched their Ultraverse line. I don't have sales data to show how much these commercials impacted the purchase of Ultraverse comics, but I think "none at all" is a safe bet. But, here, judge how persuasive these are for yourself...
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Matt K said...

I think the Transformers cartoon episodes were toy commercials, not comics commercials. :-)

(Despite which, they arguably contributed to me eventually buying up every TF comic that Marvel published, and perhaps thereby contributed to my later buying a ton of Marvel's other comics for a dozen years.)

They were originally set up as toy commercials, but the FCC put a smack down on that pretty quick. I seem to recall there was a ruling that they absolutely could not air commercials for the toys during the cartoons themselves, which is what they did originally. But there was no such ruling for comics, and they started plugging the comics near the start and finish of the shows. But then the cartoons grew popular enough that other advertisers wanted in, and it became more profitable to take their money than use up the ad space for their own merchandise.

Matt K said...

It seems like I have read that somewhere, yeah, that you mention it.