Who’s the Hero?

I came across this ad on twitter via @geekforever. (Disclaimer, my wife works at Save the Children and mentioned the DC/Save collaboration previously, but she didn’t show me any examples of the ad work:

A Collaboration between DC Comics and Save the Children

Here’s a link to the obviously good cause  (I might buy one of the shirts or iPhone case).

As a comic book fan, I was really blown away by the artwork, it’s beautiful and striking.

As a person who makes ads, I wondered, this is beautiful art, but it is a great ad?  Yes, it is attention getting which is important, it stands out, especially to someone familiar with the characters. That’s important, and I think it works well enough here that the audience will want to pause long enough to engage the ad and learn more about the message.

But I can’t help but feel it also is off-message. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but as I thought about it, I realized the focus here is on the heroes, not on you — the audience member turned hero.

So while the ad is beautiful and awesome does it reinforce the emotions and feelings that DC/Save want? Does it make the audience member feel like a hero, feel like someone who can save a life? I don’t think so.

I read somewhere “design without a message is art, design with message is an ad.

So the ad gets the right kind of attention (interest), but it doesn’t impute* it’s message and emotional content, and in that sense, it’s great art, but only an ok ad.

Addendum:

Thinking some more about the ad as I walked…. The problem really isn’t the art, but the headline. “We can be Heroes.” Of course the Justice League can be heroes, the point is “you” can be a hero.  It’s not about joining the Justice League (the heroes in the artwork), but about you helping when they can’t. So if it was the same artwork, but a headline like: “They can’t be heroes, but you can…” or “Be a real Hero…” or “You don’t need a costume to be a hero” then that reframes the message and the focus of the ad.

[*Impute: My new favorite word —  I picked up reading the Steve Jobs biography, which is pretty inspiring if you ask me. Basically a product or ad should impute to it’s audience it’s message — essentially it’s story and qualities should be obvious on an intuitive level, by the presentation. At least, that’s how I took it.]

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2 Responses to “Who’s the Hero?”

  1. batman? Says:

    great post – but disagree. this is a home run. the young girl who talks about bradley, and then says, “… yeah” – priceless. that’s the message. and now you have a second chance… to be say, Batman. and who doesn’t want. thanks for flagging.

  2. Adam Strasberg Says:

    I hear what you’re saying… I would say the video (which is here http://www.joinwecanbeheroes.org/) is actually on-emotion but misses the message. It was emotionally powerful which is critical, but the message felt muddled in it.

    Maybe it’s the connection to the Justice League which is very weak in the video. Not saying I want charts and figures, it’s certainly better to go in this direction than the other.

    I would say overall I liked the video, and thought it was actually stronger than the print ad (and the story of the Girl not helping Bradley was poignant).

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