Monday, August 27, 2007

Superheroes and advertising

“After spending an entire night fighting Venom, the Hobgoblin and Doctor Octopus, there’s only one thing that makes me feel like a human being again – and that’s new Mountain Dew: Extreme.” – Peter Parker

A ridiculous idea you say? Well, it is, but why do we think that really? We make fun of heroes like Captain Amazing and Booster Gold for product endorsements, or wearing an advertising patch on their costume – but if superheroes actually existed in this world, why wouldn’t they do that?

The responsible thing, some would say, would be for heroes to let any money made off their image go to a charity. That’s what Superman does in the DCU, after all. Money made from the sale of Captain America merchandise no doubt goes to the Federal Government in the Marvel Universe. But what, I ask, is so wrong about a hero being paid for the work they do?

Fighting crime is a tough gig, and it can make holding a regular job really hard. So, doesn’t it make some sense to let heroes earn their living by doing what they do? After all, real-world heroes, firefighters, police officers, soldiers and teachers get paid to help society. It wouldn’t even require that the hero give up their identity to the public, so long as there was a trusted individual or corporation who could collect their earnings and distribute them. The Avengers could certainly act as a clearing house to take in the money and then provide it to their members, as could the Justice League.

Heck, in the Marvel Universe, Reed Richards funds the Fantastic Four through a combination of merchandise and patent-sales. And no one ever criticizes him for it. The Wasp uses her status as an Avenger raise attention to her designs, and even models them as superhero costumes, and no one hires Jennifer Walters as an attorney without being very aware that she is the Savage She-Hulk.

So, if a hero wants to take an endorsement deal from Nike, why not let them?

Especially since we're perfectly comfortable using them for advertising in the real-world. And they don't even see a cut of the profits.

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Blogger Matt said...

The one thing I don't see mentioned in your entry is if taking the endorsement deal would give the companies any sort of pull over the superhero.

The Blur in Supreme Powers makes the case for this. Stanley has given serious thought over the matter of how he should conduct himself as a hero so as not to lose product endorsements and possibly face litigation from the companies. So far he has always chosen to do the right thing and risk the ramifications, but a lesser hero might not be able to overcome such temptations.

4:30 PM  

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