Business, Politics & Society

Expanding Your Brand: Marvel Acquisition Case Study

Bob Iger

Lesson time 6:39 min

Bob shares the strategy behind folding Marvel into the Disney brand, and he discusses how to capitalize on well-loved brands to maximize growth.

Bob Iger
Teaches Business Strategy and Leadership
Disney CEO Bob Iger teaches you the leadership skills and strategies he used to reimagine the future of one of the world’s most beloved brands.
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- What's this doing here? - That's it. Bring that to me. - You know what this is? - It's exactly what I need to make this work. [MUSIC PLAYING] - Because the Disney brand is so valuable and so important to the health and well-being of the company, both present, past, and future, when we acquire another company, we do spend time thinking about whether the company that we're acquiring-- and, in particular, the brand that we're acquiring-- is going to be an enhancement to the image of Disney and its brand, or whether it's going to detract from it. You can very quickly damage a brand by acquiring a company whose brand reputation is substantially lower than the brand reputation of Disney or, in some form or another, could actually do damage to the brand by being associated with it. So we are extremely careful when it comes to acquisitions on the impact of them on brands. [MUSIC PLAYING] When the idea of first purchasing Marvel was raised, there were people that believed that Disney could not own Marvel because the brand attributes of Marvel storytelling-- namely, that they were a little bit more violent, perhaps-- would potentially damage the Disney brand. And actually, there was quite some time that the company didn't consider buying Marvel because of that. When it came time to reconsider the acquisition of Marvel, which we did in 2009, we carefully studied the potential brand damage that we could incur in buying Marvel. And I felt, in examining the Marvel brand more carefully, than in actuality, the Marvel storytelling shared many of the storytelling values of Disney. And where it strayed, it strayed in a way in a way that was exciting to Marvel fans and I didn't think, necessarily, damaging to Disney. And so we talked about it a fair amount and ultimately concluded that as long as we managed them separately, and Marvel was Marvel, and Disney was Disney, and it's not Disney's Marvel, that we would be all right. Another thing we considered is whether, in buying Marvel, we should sanitize it a bit, which would essentially mean that we would tame it down somewhat. And I decided that if we did that, then we'd destroy Marvel brand value, and it wouldn't be worth what we paid for it. - He's mine. - There are elements of Marvel storytelling that were, in fact, too edgy, but not so edgy that they would be deemed wholly offensive to people who also love Disney so much. And obviously, in becoming part of Disney, we were careful that we didn't apply Marvel's brand attributes to Disney and we didn't apply Disney's brand attributes to Marvel. And so it's a fine line that you walk when you buy a brand whose brand attributes aren't exactly what your brand attributes are, but there is a way to manage brands separately, respecting both and adhering to each brand's attributes, still under one company's brand, and that's what we've done with Marvel. And that's what we did with Star Wars. And, in many respects, that's...

Embrace risk, build resilience

In an era of disruption, Disney CEO Bob Iger led one of the world’s most beloved brands to unprecedented success with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Now, through case studies and lessons from 45 years in media, Bob teaches you how to evolve your business and career. Learn Bob’s strategies for expanding a brand, leading with integrity, and making big moves—from risk management to the art of negotiation.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I liked very much the cases study and the Bob's advices part after each course.

I just swallowed this course in one day. I was mesmerised by Bob Iger, his integrity, clarity, posture - seems like a creative and resilient man, I can learn a lot from.

This was a great course. I have been interested in Bob Iger and found it useful to hear his outlook on business and life. He's well spoken and has taken a thoughtful approach to this course. Thank you Bob for your insight. My biggest takeaway was to always maintain high standards for projects.

Bob Iger is such an inspiration. His experience in leadership and managing is huge and his honesty about how he dealt with his mistakes, big merges, mistakes from priceless


Marcus M.

This is a great lesson. However, I wish it was more in depth. Although Marvel may be the new kid on the block (as opposed to Pixar or Star Wars), the films are some of the highest grossing films EVER and the way the stories were told was incredible. I actually would love to see a MasterClass with Jon Favreau....

A fellow student

So basically Bob has been building a "house of brands" under the umbrella brand Disney. Nice job

Ryan D.

"Another idea was to tone it down somewhat. I decided against that, because if we did that then we'd destroy Marvel Brand value and it wouldn't be worth what we paid for it." I like that; excellent point. Also the point on how you don't need to have each brand represent each other. They're separate brands. Let them breathe on their own, as they have been doing for decades.

Andrew L.

Definitely a Marvel fan and thrilled to have them at Disney! That said - I worked for a company in senior management where leadership was to only look at the data. That only tells part of the story and it was great to hear how the experience and insights from customers can really enhance or change what you look at when you see only the data.


Interesting to see how the essence of brands like Marvel and Pixar has been preserved.