10 iconic businesses that made a comeback after struggling and sometimes nearly shutting down

FILE - In this June 28, 2017 file photo, Stan Lee arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of FILE - In this June 28, 2017 file photo, Stan Lee arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of &quotSpider-Man: Homecoming" at the TCL Chinese Theatre. A former business manager of Lee has been charged with five counts of elder abuse of the late Marvel Comics mogul. Los Angeles County prosecutors filed five counts Friday, May 10, 2019, against 43-year-old Keya Morgan, including felony allegations of theft, embezzlement, forgery or fraud against an elder adult and false imprisonment of an elder adult. A warrant has been issued for Morgan's arrest. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)Associated Press

  • Sometimes, a business can do everything right and still fail.
  • Luckily, despite truly reaching the brink of extinction, some businesses manage to come back even stronger.
  • Marvel fans came out in droves to see Marvel movies while the company was struggling, and helped it become one of the most prolific brands in cinematic history.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Marvel, Netflix, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and the others on this list are so big, they're essentially unavoidable. But it wasn't always this way. All 10 companies faced an uphill struggle at some point. With the help of comic book fans, hipsters, TV junkies, and many others they were able to rebound and become more successful than ever.

Keep scrolling to learn more about these success stories.

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Before Marvel was making billions at the box office, it was in serious trouble. Thankfully, comic book fans continued to turn out at the movies and helped the company rebound.

Before Marvel was making billions at the box office, it was in serious trouble. Thankfully, comic book fans continued to turn out at the movies and helped the company rebound.

Today, Marvel and Marvel Studios are responsible for many of the highest-grossing films of all time. The most recent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Avengers: Endgame," smashed box office records.

But back in the '90s, the comics publisher was failing. Stock prices were down, and the company was heavily in debt, according to Den of Geek. In order to try and bring revenue up, Marvel sold the film rights to many of its iconic characters, like the X-Men, Blade, and Spider-Man. So even while these movies were being made, Marvel wasn't taking in much of the profits.

Cut to 2008, however, and "Iron Man" starring Robert Downey Jr. was released, kicking off a successful 22-movie, 11-year-long journey for the character and changing things around for the company. Why did it work? Many point to the script, Downey's casting, and Jon Favreau's directing.

Pabst Blue Ribbon, or PBR, has become a hipster favorite after launching an unlikely comeback in the early 2000s.

Pabst Blue Ribbon, or PBR, has become a hipster favorite after launching an unlikely comeback in the early 2000s.

PBR sales had been steadily declining starting in the 1970s and all the way until 2002. That year, according to The New York Times, sales increased by a little over 5%. But by 2014, the company saw a sharp turn in its fortune, and was valued at $1 billion.

Marketing, or a lack thereof, was credited with the rise of the beer amongst the hipster population, which notoriously doesn't like things in the mainstream. When PBR disappeared from gigantic billboards and Super Bowl commercials, it immediately appealed to people who exclusively like things that are "underground."

And now, thousands of people across the country have once again become fond of cracking open a cold PBR can.

Converse filed for bankruptcy in 2001. It has since been valued at over $1 billion.

Converse filed for bankruptcy in 2001. It has since been valued at over $1 billion.

Converse sneakers were virtually inescapable in the '70s and '80s, but fell out of fashion for many in the '90s and early 2000s. The company was reporting $205 million in revenue in 2002 — not much, according to Quartz.

However, Nike saw something in the brand — namely, that with a quick rebrand people would be clamoring for Converse once again. After high profile collaborations with designers like John Varvatos, the company has been on the up and up ever since. Converse are again some of the most common sneakers in the US.

Netflix was saved by its original content after a disastrous attempt at starting a service called Qwikster.

Netflix was saved by its original content after a disastrous attempt at starting a service called Qwikster.

In 2019, Netflix is a behemoth of content, ranging from comedies to dramas to movies to children's programming to an interactive episode of "Black Mirror." It's easy to forget that it hasn't always been smooth sailing for the website.

Netflix originally started as a mail-order DVD service in 1998. A little over a decade later, the service was dabbling in online streaming as well. According to Quartz, Netflix — against better judgment — decided to separate DVD subscriptions and streaming subscriptions and up their prices. The company decided to name the DVD subscription Qwikster.

Their stock tanked, and Netflix lost around 800,000 subscribers in the immediate aftermath of the announcement in 2011. But two years later, "House of Cards" premiered as the first Netflix Original, and there's been no turning back since then.

With both the critical and viewer acclaim that came with "House of Cards," Netflix began creating more and more original content, and has since won Emmys, Golden Globes, and even Oscars. Plus, more people than ever are subscribed to it.

Apple was saved by its trendy new colorful computers. It was recently valued at $1 trillion, the first company ever to do so.

Apple was saved by its trendy new colorful computers. It was recently valued at $1 trillion, the first company ever to do so.

When Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple in the '80s, it signaled a downward spiral for the company, including a series of flops like the Newton MessagePad, basically a notepad that retailed for over $700.

After Jobs was reinstated as CEO (following a downward spiral for the company), Apple was on the rise. The defining moment (at the time) came with the unveiling of the iMac, which looked unlike anything else on the market and came in five different colors.

Other defining moments include the introduction of the iPod, iTunes, and the iPhone. Apple has become the first company to be valued at $1 trillion and virtually everyone has an iPhone in their pocket.

Between 2008 and 2009, Starbucks shut down 900 stores and laid off 6,700 employees. Ten years later, they've once again become a coffee juggernaut.

Between 2008 and 2009, Starbucks shut down 900 stores and laid off 6,700 employees. Ten years later, they've once again become a coffee juggernaut.

Starbucks' main problem was that it grew too much too quickly. When Howard Schultz stepped away as CEO and operated just as chairman, the chain went from 5,000 stores to 15,000, Business Insider reported. Its stock also dropped 42%.

Schultz returned as CEO in 2008 (when the chain began shutting down hundreds of stores) and now, 11 years later, Starbucks reported $6.3 billion in revenue. It currently has 16.8 million Starbucks Rewards users.

Delta Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005. Now it has the second-biggest fleet in the world.

Delta Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005. Now it has the second-biggest fleet in the world.

In 2005, Delta was earning just 86% of the industry average of revenue per seat mile, according to Forbes. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005, citing rising fuel costs, and used that time to completely restructure and revamp itself, while other airlines were quickly getting bought or merged together.

They emerged from bankruptcy in 2007 and have been on the up and up ever since. As Forbes outlined, the airline made several key decisions, like turning Atlanta into the biggest airline hub in the world, acquiring a foothold in London's Heathrow airport, and taking advantage of New York City airports JFK and LaGuardia.

Now, Business Insider reported that Delta is the second-largest airline in the world, in terms of fleet size. It has 879 planes, only behind American Airlines' 956.

Lego was on the verge of going bankrupt in 2003, and now it has a successful theme park, movies, video games, and toys.

Lego was on the verge of going bankrupt in 2003, and now it has a successful theme park, movies, video games, and toys.

Lego was originally founded in 1923, and has been a staple of the toy industry ever since. But at the dawn of the millennium, the company began encountering issues. Though they were able to secure licensing deals with mega-popular franchises like "Harry Potter" and "Star Wars," after the hype from the movies died down, sales plummeted. But Lego was still producing the same amount of stock. According to Tweak Your Biz, Lego was losing one million dollars a day.

A new CEO was appointed in 2004, when Lego was on the verge of bankruptcy. He immediately made changes like slashing the amount of parts being manufactured, retiring lines that weren't selling, and shutting down the computer games division.

Now, "The Lego Movie" was one of the biggest, most-beloved movies of 2014, and has spawned a direct sequel, and two spin-off movies, "The Lego Batman Movie" and "The Lego Ninjago Movie."

With the help of hilarious commercials, Old Spice is cool again.

With the help of hilarious commercials, Old Spice is cool again.

Commercials and re-branding are what took Old Spice from being known as the choice deodorant of grandparents everywhere to a hip, relevant product.

The changes came in 2008 when parent company Procter and Gamble rolled out new products with hyper-masculine names like "Red Zone" and "High Endurance." Having been founded in 1938, for a long time, the brand was associated with older gentlemen.

"I know that the first thing that came to mind whenever I smelled original Old Spice was my grandfather," wrote Megan O'Neill of AdWeek.

Two years later, the iconic "Old Spice Guy" commercial aired starring Isaiah Mustafa, coining the new catchphrase "I'm on a horse." According to Fast Company, their sales went up by 55% after the ads aired.

General Motors (GM) went bankrupt and was bailed out in 2009. In just 10 years, they've made a complete turnaround.

General Motors (GM) went bankrupt and was bailed out in 2009. In just 10 years, they've made a complete turnaround.

GM was founded in 1908, and for years it was an automobile giant in the US. But beginning in the '70s with a national gas shortage, the company fell on hard times. In the next decade, the entire US auto industry was facing international competition, and from 1981 to 1990, GM's market share went from half of the US market to a third.

GM finally entered into bankruptcy in 2009 after successfully pleading its case to Congress for a bailout. GM was restructured and endured multiple interim CEOs before Mary Barra was installed as the first female CEO of a major automaker in 2014.

Under her leadership, the company steadied and remained the No.1 carmaker in the US. It reported higher-than-expected earnings in the first quarter of 2019.

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