It’s A Me…A Franchise!


For this blog post I had a hard time deciding between a product and a strategy…so I decided to do both! I really wanted to talk about the success of the Mario Franchise within Nintendo but thought, “while I’m at it why don’t I just discuss the success of the idea of franchising?”

If you’re not aware of who Mario is, he is Nintendo’s most successful and well known character. The stout italian plumber with the crazy mustache broke into the video gaming scene in 1981 in another one of Nintendo’s franchises, the Donkey Kong Franchise. Since that breakout role in ’81, Mario hasn’t looked back.

On the blog 24/7 Wall St. (run by MSN Money) I discovered that the Mario Franchise is the 5th best-selling product of all time with 262 million units sold. The only products ahead of the Mario Franchise are Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Harry Potter, iPhone, and Rubik’s cubes.

As you can see, within the other top 5 there is another franchise, the Harry Potter series. What does this tell you?

It tells me at least, that franchises CAN BE really successful. The reason I emphasized can be is because there are plenty of well-known failed franchises that either failed due to a poor idea or a change in our culture. An example of this would be Blockbuster how it couldn’t keep up with Netflix and the shift towards instant online streaming.

Despite the fact that there are well-known franchises who failed, franchising can pay off big time if done right and so I say it is a very successful strategy. Just look at our main man Mario as proof…of whom is a very successful product.

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8 responses to “It’s A Me…A Franchise!

  1. I really liked this post. I had some trouble thinking about a topic for this post but i think that you were able to successfully tie a bunch of things together here. What interests me most is that your research led you to looking into franchises, and from there what the top 5 franchises were. Most of them make sense. Thriller was a huge change in the music world, Harry Potter to the creative literature world, iPhone’s to the communication world, and Mario to the entertainment world. I may have been questionable about Rubik’s cubes due to the general frustration I continue to have with them. Great topic.

  2. As a devout Nintendo player, I have to correct something you said. In the original Donkey Kong, Mario wasn’t named Mario yet. He was just called “Jumpman.” Apart from that, I’ve never thought about Mario as a franchise before. He is obviously a well-known character, but thinking of him as something more than that hadn’t occurred to me before; you make a good point! Nintendo managed to hit the nail on the head when they created Mario.

  3. While I’m not a big video-gamer myself, I thought your post was really interesting! I had never thought about Mario as a franchise, let alone being the 5th best-selling product of all time. As Hunter mentioned, all of the products that were also on the best-selling list have made huge changes in their respective industries, so it makes sense that the Mario franchise is on that list!

  4. Mario 64 is one of the best games ever made. I still have Nintendo and play that game all the time. Whenever I play games with Mario as an optional character, I choose him. I’m not surprised when you call Mario a franchise. I would consider him the “franchise player” of video games. It is crazy though that he’s in the list of top five franchises of all time. Even more surprising to me was that Rubik’s cubes were in the top five. I haven’t seen one of those in years.

    • Rubik’s Cube is a global market with 30 years time. Plus that list may do real dollars. Like the highest grossing film of all time in real dollars is Gone With The End.

  5. I don’t get title… “me” is Mario?

    Maybe I am messed up here, but I think there are two meanings of franchise you have conflated. One is the recreation of IP products (books, movies) based on a pre-existing character or imaginary universe- Harry Potter, Mickey Mouse, Mario.

    The second is a business model for spreading replicants of the core model. In this case, a central corporation sells franchises to independent owner-operators. These operators own their own business, but they are bound by contracts to operate within in very narrow parameters. McDonald’s and Panera are examples. I am blanking on a non-food example. Maybe Avon ladies?

    That aside, the question for me is why anyone gives a fuck about Mario. Is it the game quality year in and out? Some brand association I don’t get? And WTF happened to his plumber brother Luigi?The lost brother... See, I am old school… I knew them before they made it big. I knew them when they were hard-working plumbers.

    According to the Video Game museum, I could even buy one of the consoles I used t play on.

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