The Avengers' Supporting Cast: Business

  1. WAL-MART
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    WAL-MART

    Walt Disney's expected blockbuster Marvel's The Avengers opened the summer movie season with a bang on May 4, with big midnight crowds of ticket holders and rave reviews. Early buzz says the film could record the biggest opening weekend of 2012. That's good news for businesses that have hitched their star to the tale of earth's mightiest heroes banding together to save the planet from destruction. They've put an estimated $100 million in promotions behind the $220 million film, in addition to Disney's own estimated $150 million marketing budget.

    To take advantage of the mania surrounding The Avengers, Wal-Mart Stores last week launched a Super Hero Augmented Reality mobile app for Apple and Android devices. Users download the app and then carry their phones through their local Wal-Mart; when they point them at special displays, their game characters gain new powers. To get all the powers, game players must travel through much of the store. (No, that wasn't an accident.)

  2. ACURA
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    ACURA

    Vehicles from Acura, Honda Motor's luxury division, that are featured in the film include the MDX sport utility vehicle and an NSX concept car driven by Iron Man. To help generate interest in the film—and its brand—the automaker sponsored an online game that lets players become part of S.H.I.E.L.D., the government agency that assembled the Avengers. The highest scores win trips to New York to chill with the folks at Stark Industries.

  3. LAND O' FROST
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    LAND O' FROST

    The lunchmeat maker put game pieces inside one-pound packages of its deli offerings, good for a chance at a free trip to New York, where the winner and three friends will become CEOs of Stark Enterprises for a day. The company also ran Avengers-themed commercials highlighting Land O' Frost's favorite heroes: moms.

  4. DR. PEPPER
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    DR. PEPPER

    Dr. Pepper has introduced eight “one of a kind” limited edition soda cans featuring the Avengers team, as well as a commercial featuring four “one of a kind” Dr. Pepper drinkers who impress former Marvel Comics President Stan Lee by chasing down a purse thief. There’s even an online game at DrPepper.com that lets fans emulate their favorite Avengers characters.

  5. FARMERS INSURANCE
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    FARMERS INSURANCE

    In its Avengers-themed commercial, the nerdy characters from the insurer's humorous series of "University of Farmers" ads don homemade costumes to make them look like Captain America, Iron Man, and the rest of the Marvel crew. The spots, on cable and such primetime shows as Dancing with the Stars, remind insurance buyers of the similarities of a superhero and a super agent.

  6.  HARLEY-DAVIDSON
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    HARLEY-DAVIDSON

    Harley, whose $15,500 Softail Slim cycle is used by Captain America in The Avengers, sponsored a contest for hog lovers to win tickets to the film's Hollywood premiere. Visitors to Harley's website can create comic heroes and customize motorcycles; five winners will be included in special online comic books and receive their own customized bikes.

  7. COLANTOTTE
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    COLANTOTTE

    The titanium wrist bracelet worn by industrialist Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) in The Avengers is Colantotte's Magtitan Neo Legend. Special alternating north-south polarity magnets are included in the company's wristbands, which are considered medical devices in Japan. Colantotte has an Avengers smartphone app that includes an interactive comic that tells the story of Iron Man—and details how he received his wristband.

  8. RED BARON
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    RED BARON

    Pizza maker Red Baron has introduced an Avengers-themed online game. Fans can play when they type in codes found on Baron’s Best pizza boxes that feature the comic book stars. The company also put out a commercial where two people exploring the Avengers’ headquarters find a freezer stash of Red Baron pizza. At the movie's Los Angeles premiere, Red Baron honored two war veterans as part of the pizza brand’s “Red Baron Heroes Beyond the Battlefield" program.

  9.  NORTON BY SYMANTEC
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    NORTON BY SYMANTEC

    Norton by Symantec, the antivirus software company, produced a YouTube featurette that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the genesis of The Avengers and other Marvel films. The clip closes on text advising viewers to “Assemble the ultimate collection of Marvel titles now available on DVD and Blu-ray” and, of course, “Assemble the ultimate protection, brought to you first by Norton.” Symantec is also hosting an online Avengers-themed sweepstakes for fans who log onto the company's site. Prizes include free movie tickets and Norton-protected devices such as a Samsung Galaxy Tab.

  10. HASBRO
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    HASBRO

    The toymaker has scores of officially licensed Avengers products, from Thor Lightning Hammers and Captain America Disc Launching Shields to Iron Man's Repulsor blasters and Gamma Green Smash Fists that make you (well, your hands, at least) look like the Hulk.

  11. JADS INTERNATIONAL
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    JADS INTERNATIONAL

    So what exactly does an angry green superhero smell like? Jads International, with its new line of Avengers colognes, says its Hulk-inspired Smash scent carries "an intense woody drydown enriched with Indian sandalwood, vetiver, musk, and sharp cedar." The perfume tied to Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow character, meanwhile, "dries down to a deeply desirous gourmand delight of bitter chocolate, clear patchouli, and praline."