So “Captain America: Civil War” is on track to be the highest grossing film in the MCU, and it’s been barely a month after it was shown worldwide. Cheers! Could be the hype that comes with the situation when people are being made to choose sides. Could be the title: there’s something about internal conflict that makes people curious. Or it could be that half of those who watched it are not really Marvel fans (and presumably, not know what MCU means) but want to watch it anyway just so they can chime in the coffee break gossip at the office. I bet they didn’t even stay until after the end credits. Losers.
I watched the third installment of Captain America on the first screening day, and I came out feeling I got more than I paid for. Yes, even though I rooted for the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist friend, er, enemy of Steve Rogers. Yeah, there were some loopholes in the plot — What was Vision doing half the time his friends were trying to avoid getting killed by Team Cap? Howard Stark had an “accident” right where there was a conveniently-placed CCTV camera? Wasn’t it relatively easy for a dismembered Bucky and a shield-less Cap to penetrate the enemy camp? — but from a consumer’s perspective, this should be the ideal feeling after a purchase. Consumers should always feel they got more bang for the buck.
And just like that, we’re talking about Captain America: Civil War and marketing.
To have a point of discussion, we’re going to talk about two similar companies, say in the IT industry, who are competing against each other. Team Captain America vs. Team Iron Man. Company A vs. Company B. Get the picture?
Individually, each member of The Avengers has an objective, whether it is personal or just for the heck of it. When you have superpowers, it’s way too fun to just sit there and wait for things to happen, right? Collectively, however, The Avengers have the same general objective: use their powers to protect humanity from the evil elements.
The same is true with IT industry Company A and Company B. They may have different goals individually – perhaps different levels of success at different stages — but since they are in the same sector, their objectives are similar: provide what the consumers need.
Like the Avengers, I’d like to believe competing companies also think it doesn’t matter if awards and praises (profit) come later. Or does it?
There are two kinds of heroes: those who live to tell the tale, and those who die and let their tales be told by others. It’s good to die a hero, but my guess is, most people would rather want to live. So aside from being the protectors of hapless human beings, superheroes also have the desire for self-preservation. You cannot fault a hero for trying to save himself first, otherwise, how can he save you if he’s dead?
In the same way, companies want to provide you the things you need, but for a reasonable price. It’s good to give stuff for free – companies occasionally do that – but in order to sustain the business, a company has to earn, too. So if a company increases prices, don’t hastily conclude that they’re pushing you over the edge. It could be that it’s merely trying to survive – in order to provide you what you need in the future. In short, it’s trying to avoid dying.
Same Product, Different Packaging
Team Cap and Team Iron Man essentially have the same “product” – superhero services. It’s just that they have different ways of presenting it to the public.
On the one hand, there’s Steven Rogers (Captain America) who, despite being used to hierarchal control in the military, scorns authority and rejects international oversight when carrying out their superhero duties.
On the other hand, there’s Tony Stark (Iron Man) who, despite being a maverick and a poster boy of non-conformists, submits to bureaucracy and welcomes government intervention, noting that the last thing The Avengers need is to create yet more collateral damage.
In marketing, it’s like listening to two rival companies presenting their products. They have basically the same products, but there’s a significant difference in the presentation because the bosses subscribe to different schools of thought in, well, packaging the product. It’s actually better that way. Variety, even just in packaging is fun. Same product, different packaging.
When the members of The Avengers are made to choose sides, you expect fireworks to follow. Nope, nobody’s celebrating. They’re bound to clash, kick each other’s behinds, and throw insults in each other’s faces for good measure.
And clash they did. Unfortunately, like what happened to The Avengers’ many other operations, there was collateral damage. Properties were destroyed beyond repair, limbs mangled, souls broken, lives taken. It’s almost always a ghastly sight. In the end, goodness in general may have prevailed, but the civilians lost something that can’t be taken back – the feeling of security. And it’s ironic because that’s what The Avengers were supposed to provide.
When two rival companies “fight”, however, a different battle takes place. They outperform each other in terms of the quality of the product or service, they outduel each other when it comes to customer service, and they even outdo each other in pricing.
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When Samsung took on Apple in the mobile phone race, better and better phones came out. People were able to do things they never thought possible. Both companies’ representatives consciously put on bigger smiles. Even the prices were competitive. Well, it depends which income bracket you belong, but hey, at least it’s easier now for a middle-class citizen to have an iPhone or a Note 4.
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In Captain America: Civil War, two similar entities were at loggerheads. Similar in the sense that they are from the same group who embrace the same cause. They were at odds against each other because they believed in two entirely different means to a common end.
By analogy with marketing, the two factions (Team Captain America and Team Iron Man) are two companies in the same industry who have contrasting ways of presenting their products. The analogy ends there.
When heroes fight, the public suffers. When two similar companies compete, it’s the consumers who win. Always.
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