Aslan vs. Hobbes: A Marketing Comparison

January 10, 2006 by

Christianity Today has an interesting article comparing the marketing of two cats: Aslan the lion from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Hobbes the tiger from Calvin & Hobbes. While Aslan and the rest of the Narnia characters have been given the full Hollywood merchandising treatment, Calvin & Hobbes stands as the rare example of no merchandising (so yeah, all those peeing Calvin window stickers are unauthorized). Creator Bill Watterson refused to license his characters, arguing that it would diminish the value of the strip. A stuffed animal of Hobbes would certainly take the fun out of the question of his reality.

It’s not like the church has the opportunity to create marketing tie-ins like a happy meal, but it does raise questions about how far we take our marketing. I’ve always thought the no-licensing stance of Watterson was pretty cool (of course I’d still love a Calvin & Hobbes T-shirt). It’s also worth pointing out that Watterson’s decision not to license his characters is just as much a marketing decision as Disney’s to license Narnia to death. Marketing is just a tool–it’s what you do with it that matters.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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5 Responses to “Aslan vs. Hobbes: A Marketing Comparison”

  • Jesse
    January 10, 2006

    I think the fact that Disney put the movie out shows why it is being heavily marketed.
    In my humble opinion, I don’t have any problems with how the movie has been advertised; I like the fact that virtually EVERYONE has either heard of the movie, or gone to see it… it’s message helps us to show people what God did for us.
    Best movie of the year!

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  • Anthony
    January 10, 2006

    Romans 14:14 ——
    I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean — I use this Scripture regarding the practice of Marketing. A person can use it righteously or a person can use it to propogate evil and use evil ways to do it — I am GLAD that movies such as THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and NARNIA are getting a lot of “play”. I just hope that people have eyes to SEE Jesus and not just walk away entertained.

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  • Kent Shaffer
    January 12, 2006

    Good post, Kevin.
    I think your last statement sums it up: “it’s what you do with it that matters.” Marketing is about the choices and tools we use to get the results we want.
    There is a beauty in what Watterson did, and it gave him the results he wanted. Sometimes an under the radar finesse is more profitable than a blow out rise to the top.

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  • Kevin J Jones
    January 12, 2006

    “Marketing is just a tool–it’s what you do with it that matters.”
    Ever hear of Marshall McLuhan? He’s written on how the medium affects the message, certainly relevant for both movies and marketing.

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  • writingUp
    February 11, 2006

    Hobbes, Aslan, and the Commodification of a Cat

    Site RingRing Owner: Sina94  Site: Book, movie, and music reviews

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