By TJ Dietsch
Partnerships matter in comics. Whether you're talking about Power Man and Iron Fist or Reed Richards and Sue Storm, the Marvel Universe features plenty of powerful pairings. But Marvel also makes impressive relationships in the real world too. Take the recent Marvel Custom Solutions ventures with Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics which won the Diagnostic Marketing Association's 2012 Marketer of the Year Award.
Siemens and Marvel teamed up with the Elks to produce a public-service ad for the Elks’ comic HARD CHOICES that helps kids deal with underage drinking. The success of that first project paved the way for the award-winning "Unsung Heroes" campaign which honors laboratory professionals, such as brand new character Pearl Powers. Pearl teamed up with Iron Man in a digital comic called IRON MAN: HEROES UNITE, a completely original Marvel Custom creation written by Bryan J.L. Glass and drawn by Kev Sharp.
Pearl and Iron Man also appeared together on invitations Siemens sent for the 2012 American Association for Clinical Chemistry that included an original pog. Siemens even surprised attendees at various events with real life appearances by the likes of none other than Iron Man and Captain America.
“From cover art to digital motion comics to new character designs, Marvel Custom Solutions is your one-stop creative shop for any and all content delivered in the mighty Marvel manner,” editor Bill Rosemann says. “But the extra necessary ingredient is the passion, insight and collaboration of partners like the talented team at Siemens.”
To get insight into the working relationship, Marvel.com spoke with Connie Mardis, M.Ed., Director, Marketing Communication Programs at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, about it, starting with the initial idea of working with Marvel.
"Thanks to a Siemens corporate 12-year strategic technology and marketing alliance with the Walt Disney Company, we had the opportunity to meet Bob Sabouni, Mitch Dane and Bill Rosemann [of Marvel]," Mardis says. "They shared the possibilities of Marvel Custom projects, which sparked ideas we couldn't wait to try. It's a dream to have the opportunity to work with such a well-recognized worldwide brand."
With a world of characters to choose from, Mardis explains the benefits of working with the House of Ideas.
"We are True Believers in the power of the Marvel heroes to reach the hearts and minds of target market segments of all ages and professions," Mardis says. "I think Kent Gade, Director of the Elks National Drug Awareness Program, said it best: ‘The Marvel Super Heroes in HARD CHOICES empower parents and teachers to discuss a difficult topic in a fun, familiar format that children can identify with.’”
Mardis calls the experience of actually working with Rosemann, Dane and Sabouni unbelievable.
"Once I stopped pinching myself and realized it wasn't a dream, it's been an adrenaline rush on an epic scale," Mardis says. "It's energizing, collaborative and fun, and the results have been amazing. We're extremely impressed with the assets created, and the Custom team is Creativity cubed."
The Marvel/Siemens relationship extends beyond custom comics, into the real world. Mardis notes that crowds were shocked, thrilled and full of smiles when the Marvel characters made appearances at different live events.
"[There were] long lines to meet the Super Heroes from fans of all ages and occupations, including judges when Captain America addressed more than 4,000 attendees at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals [NADCP] 18th Annual Training Conference," Mardis says. "We've found Marvel character appearances to be a great opportunity to increase booth traffic at business-to-business tradeshows and online. We were thrilled when the Marvel tweet about Cap's appearance at NADCP was the #1 most influential Siemens tweet worldwide on June 6, 2012, engaging over 356,000 Twitter followers!"
Even with such positive responses to working with Marvel, Mardis admits to being stunned when she heard the news that Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics had won the DxMA Marketer of the Year Award for 2012.
"It's a first for us winning this prestigious award in the diagnostics industry," Mardis says. Unfortunately Iron Man or Cap won't be on hand to help receive the award at the April 24 event, as Mardis explains: "They have a S.H.I.E.L.D. commitment, but we totally understand."
With an award-winning team in place and a great reaction to the work they've already done, Siemens and Marvel already have plans for the rest of 2013.
"Absolutely, more 2013 projects are underway," Mardis says. "We love noodling with the minds at Marvel to enhance Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics brand awareness, and bring educational focus to the most threatening diseases, such as diabetes. Iron Man has joined the fight against diabetes, with Tony and Pepper Potts helping us raise awareness about pre-teen diabetes in upcoming print and motion comics featuring Daisy, a new Marvel Custom character."
Many more amazing Marvel Custom Solutions projects will turn heads in 2013, so keep an eye on Marvel.com for further developments.