Ad Space – Superhero PSAs

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Various public service announcements

The Promotions:

The Pitch:
Remember, kids, always do what the stranger in the funny tights tells you to do.

So you’ve got yourself a big name superhero, one who’s been around for decades, whose image is cemented in popular culture, who’s beloved by kids, and whose image is all about standing up for what’s right. If you’re going to make a public service announcement, there are few better spokespeople you could pick. Although, these specific ads can get a bit weird with it …

The Spider-Man one is very simple and straightforward; heck, it’s downright minimalistic. It’s just that, this thing’s from 1992. The first live action Spider-Man movie was still a decade away, and superheroes were still commonly viewed as something for kids. And this PSA certainly feels like something aimed at kids, y’know? Except … it’s encouraging the viewers to go out and vote. Which, if they’re in Spider-Man’s target demographic, they are in no way old enough to do. Maybe the idea’s to plant the “voting is important” seed now, and hope it sticks with them until they turn 18. Still, it’s odd.

By contrast, the Superman PSAs are very clear, effective, and well-produced. Shockingly well-produced, in fact. Look at how fluid and expressive the animation is. Only other time I’ve seen a Superman cartoon this gorgeously animated is when Fleischer Studios had the character. Some anti-smoking organization really went all out here.

But I do still laugh at how, in the first ad, Superman sounds like a Russian dude almost but not quite faking an American accent. Also, in the third one, it takes someone with Superman’s super-instincts to hear “an old wizard teaching kids tricks with cigarettes” and think maybe there’s something wrong here.

Finally, we have Batgirl demanding equal pay for female sidekicks. So much going on here. Firstly, the idea that Robin and Batgirl get paid. Second, that Batgirl is fully willing to let the Dynamic Duo get blown up unless their pay gap is resolved. Third, that Batman’s response to the Equal Pay Law is “this is no time for jokes, Batgirl!” Can we get Leslie Grace and Michael Keaton to recreate this PSA now, just to see the Internet lose its goddamn mind?