The LEGO Group has been around since 1932. For decades, the company was a leading toy manufacturer, but Lego’s sales dropped 40% in the two years since 2002 — due in part to the growing popularity of electronic toys. In 2004, the company had debts of almost $1 billion and was near bankruptcy. Then, spurred by the recession and the low cost of its toys, sales of Lego products began to pick back up, and have been increasing since. The company cut its workforce by 1,000 and reduced the amount of pieces it produces from 13,000 to 6,000, discontinuing its unpopular toys. For the first half of 2011, net sales have been up 25% over the first half of 2010. Today, it is the world’s fourth largest toy manufacturer.
Marvel is one of the most recognizable brands in the comic book industry, owing its fortunes to popular characters like Spider-Man, X-Men and The Hulk. But Marvel’s current success follows a serious slump. In late 1996, after declining sales of comics and trading cards, the company filed for bankruptcy. In 2000, the company released the movie X-Men — a huge success, which grossed almost $300 million worldwide. Two years later, Spider-Man was released, becoming the top grossing movie of the year. In 2009, Marvel Entertainment was purchased by Disney (NYSE: DIS) for $4 billion. This summer the company released X-Men: First Class, which has already grossed over $353 million worldwide in theaters.
3. Old Spice
Old Spice, a classic American brand that has been around since 1938, attained huge popularity by the 1970s. By 1990, however, the brand had become tired, associated more with its aging customer base than anything else. In 2000, the company, now owned by Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), came out with Old Spice Red Zone and revamped its advertising campaigns, focusing on the younger generation. Popular online ads featuring the Old Spice Man went viral, propelling Old Spice to the lead in the body wash market. In June 2010, sales increased a whopping 107%.