Beloved intellectual properties Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Cyborg have contracted to appear in a commercial promoting Craftsman tools. Forbes has the story:
Fans who attend the sold out New York Comic-Con (NYCC) October 11-14 at the Javitz Center will see the first-ever print comic book crossover between DC Entertainment and Craftsman — “Craftsman Bolt-On System Saves the Justice League.” The story involves major super heroes like Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman and The Flash. Of course, this being a digital world, anyone can view or download the comic online at www.CraftsmanComic.com beginning October 1.
As of today, September 27th, if you visit the website referenced above, you will be greeted by this image:
That “click here” leads to the website for ePrize, which is a social, mobile and web marketing company. I’m not sure, but isn’t ePrize a subsidiary of LexCorp?
The commercial/print comic/online comic will feature a brand-new piece of intellectual property called The Technician, who is apparently the guy who fixes stuff in the Hall of Justice:
Hank Kanalz, SVP of digital, DC Entertainment, said The Technician came about through a brainstorming session that explored what happens when something mechanical goes wrong in the DC Universe. After all, the Dark Knight isn’t going to change the oil in the Batmobile and Wonder Woman isn’t going to repair the Invisible Jet after a flight. And just who’s in charge of keeping the alarm system up to par at The Hall of Justice?
Here’s an idea: Why not just have Dr Fate cast a “Spell of Perpetual Fixedness” over the Hall of Justice and everything within it? Then, they wouldn’t have to hire some handyman who might actually be a mole sent in by some “social marketing firm” to keep tabs on what they’re doing on behalf of some corporation that sends out advertising texts that might have viruses, so when you open them your cell phone sends out pulses that burrow into your brain when you place them next to your ear, and cause you to lose your mind and commit horrible, mysterious crimes.
Now, I’m not saying that any of the stuff I just wrote is going to happen. But it might. Which is why you have any one of the hundreds of DC Universe characters who have magical powers use those magical powers to “change the oil in the Batmobile.”
The reason I’m so wary about this has to do with the Forbes article itself, which seems to contain some (not-so) stealth marketing, and leads me to believe that “they” might have gotten to the author:
The new Craftsman Bolt-On tool system allows do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) to save space with nine interchangeable attachments that connect to the handheld rechargeable base. The QuickBoost Charger allows the device to go from 0 to 30 percent in 10 minutes, which is great for quick fixes without the wait. This isn’t your dad’s toolbox equipment. And that’s why Craftsman is targeting the younger comic book demographic with this marketing push.
That paragraph contains (1) a link to Craftsman’s site, (2) a couple of sentences that read like advertising copy, and (3) it ends with the dubious phrase “younger comic book demographic.” Most comics readers are between 30 and 40 years old.
IGN has an interview with the writer of the commercial, Joshua Williamson, in which he explains the purpose of the commercial, and how much fun he had creating it:
In some ways you get to cut loose and just tell a short story using the amazing DC characters. Something we rarely get to do or see now. But at the same time you have to keep in mind the whole reason the comic exists, which is to help promote product. In this case, it is to introduce the Craftsman brand and their new product, the Bolt On tool, to a new generation of tool user. You have to find that balance.. For me I try to always use a character that I love that I haven’t been able to write in the main DCU yet. So for this story it was Cyborg and The Key.
I can’t believe that DC would use their characters like this. I just can’t…
Oh. Well, I mean, this is a recent thing. They didn’t do this kind of crass sell-out stuff when I was a kid…
Last year, TIME ran an article about the Green Lantern film, and the influence the toy company Mattel exerted over its creation:
If [you] know what to look for, you can see a toy maker’s fingerprints on big budget films like Green Lantern. Artists from both sides of the collaboration will often work together on designs for the film accessories, mainly gadgets and vehicles. “Yes, we’re the studio and we’re the closest to the people making the movie, but we integrate Mattel at the earliest stage with the film’s producers, the director and the art director,” Brad Globe, President, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “We both know the important thing is to translate the movie’s elements into something the kids can play with.”
In other words, DC has been using its beloved intellectual property as advertising and promotional tools for years. In fact, you might argue that comic books themselves are nothing more than just floppy advertising pamphlets for future film franchises.
Who knows? Maybe THE TECHNICIAN will turn out to be the greatest book of DC’s New 52 reboot! What do you think? Are you looking forward to reading THE TECHNICIAN’s adventures fixing shit that breaks in the Hall of Justice? Can’t wait for that issue where he fixes the heating system just in time to save the Justice League from Captain Cold and Mister Freeze? Sound off in the comments!