"Successfully progressing from one generation of console to the next is an admirable feat in itself, but making the leap from successful game franchise to ubiquitous marketing icon isn't always an easy one, especially in today's incestuous and highly self-referential cultural landscape. At least in the case of Mega Man and Mario, this process occurred naturally with personalities created relatively early in the console boom (1987 and 1985 respectively). In these situations, early popularity begat increased exposure, a greater variety of titles and, eventually, more popularity. From there, it was just a matter of some savvy marketing, and game characters suddenly became television stars."
Jon Schnaars explores the marketing genius behind the Mega Man franchise.