With less than a month until Secret Empire kicks off, Marvel Comics' Senior Vice President of Print, Sales and Marketing David Gabriel has revealed more details about the framing and marketing of the 2017 summer event - including a planned industry-wide "Hydra Takeover."
"We’re branding the first month (issues #1 - #3) as 'United We Stand'. You’ve likely seen that on the marketing so far. It’s all about the heroes coming together to face off against Hydra. For month two, June (issues #4 and #5) will be branded 'Hydra Nation'. I’ll let you speculate as to what that means," said Gabriel in a Diamond Comics Distributors interview shared with retailers this week. "In the first week of June we’re planning a widespread 'Hydra Takeover' of the entire comics industry. This includes many popular websites, some Marvel apps & sites, and even brick and mortar retail locations, as well as online retailers and sales outlets. Look for some more info on that in the next few weeks."
Marvel's marketing efforts will expand beyond the comics industry however, as the Marvel executive says that Secret Empire will be featured in "talk shows, TV ads, and some other thing we can't talk about."
Marvel had previously coordinated with ABC's The View to have news broken on that mainstream talk show, and has also had several of its writers appear on night-time talk shows. A video series patterned after the current Black Panther: A Nation Under Your Feet series is planned, with its content to be "repurposed as broadcast television advertising."
Although the marketing efforts for Secret Empire appear to be expanding from previous events, Gabriel said the one thing they're reducing for this event is the number of tie-ins - specifically acknowledging "event fatigue."
"It's also a good time to mention that we took some learnings from last year and cut down the number of tie-ins to this event," said Gabriel. "We get that some fans or stores may have event fatigue, while others continue to demand more and more. So we think we’ve found the happy medium for Secret Empire."
Gabriel also contrasted Secret Empire with the delays that the previous Civil War II and Secret Wars experienced, saying that pages for June 14's Secret Empire #4 have already been turned in by Leinil Francis Yu.
"Most important to conclude with is that we here have heard the retailers and fans and we understand the issues with shipping late on events. We are doing everything in our power to keep this series on time and ending the last week of August. Stick with us here, because well before this event is concluded, you will be saying Make Mine Marvel," said Gabriel. "To further the point on the shipping, Secret Empire’s on-time and moving ahead nicely. Pages from issue 4 are already in and they look amazing. Not only will this ship rapidly but the fevered momentum will continue into the summer until we blow the lid off the entire Marvel Universe."
The promise of on-time shipping of Secret Empire is helped by the use of multiple artists, as opposed to those other two events which planned for only one artist to draw the entire series.
To further encourage sales, Marvel has seemingly sent advance review copies of Secret Empire #0 to retailers ahead of its planned April 19 debut - but admits that even after reading the kick-off issue, people won't know the true nature of the event.
"Lastly, I think I’d want to say that this story is not what you think it is. Lots of people out there have lots of guesses. But no one has figured out what’s going on, even after reading the 0 issue," said Gabriel. "And that’s probably the most exciting part for us. Because it means we get to surprise some people along the way. What Nick and his collaborators have cooked up is a really fun story that will test the heroes in a number of ways. I’m fairly certain that all Marvel fans will be ecstatic when they reach the conclusion of Nick’s epic!"