Robot 6

A closer look at DC’s ‘New 52′ commercial

DC Comics last night debuted the 30-second trailer that will air on television and in theaters to promote the September relaunch of its superhero line. Hero Complex also has a two-minute cut that will appear, presumably later today, on the publisher’s website and Facebook page.

The trailer smartly focuses on DC’s marquee characters, the superheroes a general audience will recognize — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman and the combined Justice League. That said, it’s difficult to get past the promo’s shortcomings, which aren’t limited to the generic “metal” soundtrack, or the feeling that the teaser tumbled out of 2009, when countless independent creators and small publishers were using the same techniques to animate and market their own comics to existing readers.

No, the major problem is that there’s no substance, and no excitement, to the trailer, nothing to make the “average” film-goer sit up and think, “When I get home in three hours, I just have to check out that website!” (Now what was that website again?) “All-new” doesn’t tell a non-comics reader anything; neither do Star Trek-style lens flares and tilted, static shots of characters a mainstream audience has seen fully realized on film and television.

There’s the sense that DC desperately wants to target a new audience, but doesn’t quite know how. What the publisher does instead is fall back on the approach it uses for the readers it already has. For additional evidence, look no further than the extended version of the trailer: The only differences between that and the one airing in theaters is that it’s longer, and includes the tagline, “The World’s Greatest Super Heroes … The World’s Greatest Creators.”

“DC Comics: The New 52″ kicks off Aug. 31 with the release of Justice League #1.



Horrible. If someone isn’t already into comics and following comics news, they’ll have no idea what this means.

I didn’t think it was that bad. (Plus I kind of like the metal)


August 17, 2011 at 7:29 am

I thought the trailer was pretty good. That being said, I think we have to keep in mind that as existing comic fans, we tend to overthink these characters, and have a skewed interpretation of them – so we may not be the best judge of what doesn’t work with non-fans.

Whereas this commercial is targeted squarely at a general public who likes DC’s most well-known superheroes in their classic form, but doesn’t read comics. In other words, 90% of the under-25 crowd

I think the trailer gets across that DC’s Justice League characters are cool, and that now is a good time to jump into comics. If that message gets across…mission accomplished.

This promo does nothing to attract new readers. It is aimed at old comic readers and even that fails since there is nothing at all to this promo. There is no substance other than ‘new’ number 1’s. That is if nothing else only something that would interest a comic book collector, who is ready to preserve their ‘investment’ in plastic.

I think when comics became collectibles the industry’s decline began. No longer cheap and available at the newsstand, the comic book became slick and ‘important’.

That was horrible, it tells us nothing about the product…

I think that a voice-over would have helped a lot. That was really dull.

What’s so bad about it? It’s a commercial for comic books. It’s a typical commercial really. I guess everyone needs something to bitch about these days.

They should add voices, special audio effects, and more movement… oh, wait, then it would be a cartoon.


August 17, 2011 at 7:46 am

I don’t know how the general populace that doesn’t read comics is supposed to get anything out of that?

It’s awful.

15 – 30 seconds of voice-over explaining why and what would add more to it than the lousy music track.

I think the criticism is quite harsh, what I believe does show well in the trailer is some amazing art work which certainly gets my attention. After nearly 100 years of comics and a lot of that with DC superheroes, I’m sure people have a relative idea of what is going on.

I don`t like what DC is doing with this relaunch, and I still think the promo is good enough. What kind of text sells a whole new universe of comics in 30 seconds? And with the generic metal music there, I think the “in a world…” voice-over would make it even more forgettable.

They have had all summer to promote this launch and unless you’re a comic reader who follows internet comic news, you would know nothing about this reboot. They’re just now marketing it to new readers? As a marvel reader I was interested in adding about 5u of the new titles but as time moved on I lost interest in 1her and then marvel launched books that sounded far more exciting. Im down to infrastructure in 2the books now from the dc line but the more I read about it, less I like what I hear. There should have been ads for this since the day it was announced.

The real problem is that most people in the general public don’t realize that comic books are still sold as a monthly magazine-style product. Even if it brings people into the comic shops, they might not realize they need to come back next month for the next part of the story and/or be really disapointed at how aburptly most modern comics end each issue.

wow, the 2 minute version is so much better!

that version showcases more of the Batman stuff which is what i would showcase to attract people who have never read comics before.

it also has the reviewer quotes at the end that make the relaunch seem like an even bigger deal.

C’mon you guys. I think we should all give the DC interns who worked really hard on this a huge round of applause. I doubt any of you could do better with the budget DC gave those kids…which looks to be about $100 total.

Very meh. It was an “image” spot… something to promote DC’s characters, but it doesn’t finish with a memorable message telling prospective customers where to find the characters. Example: nearly everyone knows DC is home to Superman and Batman, but the average person has no idea what Action Comics is. The cover flashes on the screen too quickly for people to remember it.

Nothing in this spot stands out except Superman’s glowing red eyes and Wonder Woman breaking arrows with her bracelets. 52 new number ones. What does that mean to the person who doesn’t already read comics? Not much. DC would have done better to sell the stories and what makes them different. Something like this for Action Comics:

Text: “A small town boy” (over images of farms and tractors in the fields)
Text: “moves to the big city” (over images of skyscrapers)
Text: “to find a job” (images of Daily Planet offices)
Text: “love” (images of women, including Lois Lane)
Text: “and FIGHT CRIME” (silhouette of Superman with cape, maybe hunched over, menacing stance)
Text: “Superman like you’ve never seen him before” (reveal Superman in full color with the jeans and cape look similtar to Action Comics cover)
Text: “DC’s New 52. Superheroes like you’ve never seen them before” (web address with covers fanned out showing JLA, Action Comics, Detective Comics, Batman, etc)

I doubt this would pick up steam with new readers, if those are the people they’re trying to hook with this.

New #1s! So what?

Wow, comic books! And why should they care?

I mean, I read so little DC I’m practically a new reader, and I just don’t feel this.

@What kind of text sells a whole new universe of comics in 30 seconds?

I agree. But a voiceover would have gone over way better, despite what you believe. It’s all in the copy. They could sell the fact that they could ‘continue the adventures of your favorite heroes’ through these new books, or appeal to people’s curiosity and make them ‘find out where it (read: superheroes) all began!’

I think it’s pretty good except that the text at the end is really hard to read!!! It totally blends into the background.

@ Tim Levine

I will be surprised the day a fanboy likes something.

I am down on the whole reboot re launch whatever.

No interest….but

That ad ctually looks pretty good.

I am confident that kids who don’t read comics would think it was cool, and if only 1 out of every 10 kids who sees it feels that way, then it still has the potential to be a big boost.

A voice over would be silly and probably confusing to people who don’t read the books.

This ad basically said, hey kids look how awesome our characters look. That is what is gonna get kids to read, no text or voice over explanation is going to get kids in.

The 52 #1 issues part was probably the most confusing aspect, because most people probably don’t even know what “52 #1 issues” means. That is comic book lingo and most kids probably don’t get it, however there parents might so maybe that will help.

I would like to see a ton more of these. Comic books desperately need television and web based advertising aimed at people who don’t already read comics and comic book websites.


Actually I like your idea.

I think something like that, showing Dick Greyson starting at the circus, then robin, then becoming Batman, then Nightwing and the circus going full circle, would work for Nightwing. Wonder how you’d do Batgirl?

Not too shabby.
And I like that they left out any voiceovers, which are incredibly cheesy on comics.

When I was in advertising, my mentor taught me 4 basic rules, things that made an effective ad. 1) Unexpected approach (get their attention), 2) Believability, 3) Perceived benefit (what’s in it for them), 4) Urge to action (tell them what they need to do in response). So how does this ad stack up?

1) Unexpected/attention grabbing?

Pops visually, but pretty much what you’d expect from a comic book ad. Nothing to make me go “this is different,” except “new #1’s” which wouldn’t make me hop on by itself. GRADE: D

2) Believable?

Yeah, I guess, as far as it goes. It really doesn’t promise much, but it doesn’t make any blatantly unbelievable claims. GRADE: C+ (being generous)

3) Perceived Benefit?

What am I going to get out of this? Hours of excitement? Great stories? New twists? Nothing in this ad tells me why I should care. GRADE; D-

4) Urge to Action?

Sorry, friends, “Get them now” just doesn’t cut it. Incredibly weak. This particular element might be improved by co-op copy, but as it stands…GRADE: F


This is Time Warner, one of the greatest communications conglomerates on earth? Not impressed.

It seems alright to me. If someone can watch that and not understand it’s advertising comics, I think we as a human race have a lot more to worry about. Anyone with a basic advertising comprehension will know what’s being advertised, and as for forgetting the site address, this isn’t 1994. I’m sure they can just google ‘DC Comics’ and find what they want, and if they can’t, well… Like I said, it would be indicative of a larger overall intelligence problem within the US.

Never understood having trailors for comic books anyway… It’s not like they are movies. Then again that’s just me. Maybe some gripping acapella ups and downs like in the animated features for DC Home videos might have added some spice to this mixed in with some harder core metal tunag? That’s the kinda stuff I love to hear without lyrics of course.

Dan Didio is not running DC Comics. Dan Didio’s ADD is running DC Comics. (That’s a lot of Ds.)

OK…how about this…a voiceover not doing the ‘in a world’ type of movie exposition, but something that actually pitches the comics. “60 years ago DC Comics created a universe where gods walk among men. This September, they’re doing it again. Get in on the action as DC reimagines and reintroduces the world to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the DC line of heroes. 52 all new #1 issues, all at the same time. Join us as we make history, again!” Short, concise, and actually tells the uninformed why the new #1s are important.

This would have worked if they had commercials with famous people giving testimonials about how much they love DC Comics. Get Danny McBride or someone else cool like that. Hell, get Jerry Seinfeld.

@Logan1478, that’s pretty good copy, but–even if I don’t use your actual verbiage–you’re still referring to the historical aspect of comics, which no one but comic collectors would care about. Also, \even the names Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are actually stupid; just saying them aloud reminds you how silly these properties are (not to say they’re not enjoyable, but this is a balancing act)–if you don’t agree, then you’re too close to the subject (and I love these superheroes).

I think the “metal” soundtrack isn’t that bad (and I dislike metal); the visual branding speaks for itself and the images (and soundtrack) illustrate that there’s a more modern sensibility at work here. The spot says the characters you know, but done cool.

This is actually a very hard sell, because comics are endemically ridiculous; any attemp to explain in words why you should care will probably fail. It’s a visual medium first and foremost, so a largely visual appeal makes a lot of sense. I think this kind of a “do no harm” approach, and I think it works.

The ad catches your eye, but nothing else.

If non fans/kids were familiar with Superman and Wonder Woman they may be asking why do they look so different. Other than that, I doubt this commercial would drive them to seek out comics. A voice over would’ve helped too IMHO.

I think this is just a tease to inspire fanboys/girls to create their own online trailers — a la the great Nate Fillion/Green Lantern one from a few years back. It’s quite clear that DC’s creators don’t seem to know how to craft fan-friendly product in another medium!

The kind of trailer that says to the general public, “Comic books? They still make those? I haven’t seen those in years. Hey, did you pre-order Halo 4?”


Criticizing something because it won’t make sense to people who aren’t fanboys, strikes you as a fanboy criticism?


You elucidated it better than me. Hit the nail on the head right there.

Yeah, this trailer is not good at all. I would wager to it’s not smart to only focus on the marquee characters of the DC universe. After all, a major part of the push for DC was to strive for better diversity, which is completely absent
in this commercial and therefore unable to reach the minds of minorities all over.

The music was also a horrible choice. A simple using of standard pop music or even a popular rock song in today’s market would’ve done much better than the music displayed. It would have been better to even go towards the epic music you see in most trailers nowadays.

Definitely a D for this trailer. They want a new audience, they just don’t know how to advertise towards them.

Enough with the bitching and moaning! You’d think that everyone posting here took a degree in advertising!

How about some praise for what they are doing! Thinking outside the box!

Good on DC for actually doing what they said they were going to do, and trying to get the word out about their comics! Lets hope this is the first step in a big advertising push!

“Enough with the bitching and moaning! You’d think that everyone posting here took a degree in advertising! ”

Oh Faust, stop your bitching and moaning about bitching and moaning. You’d think that you had a degree in knowing what you are talking about.

It doesn’t take a degree to tell this advert is not going to appeal to new readers. I’m a DC fan & it didn’t even encourage me to go look into the new product line. It tells me nothing about the product whatsoever… Is it a new computer game, a movie, a tv show, what?

If i didn’t already have an interest in this general product & had somehow missed the last 3 months of announcements, this would not make me want to go fin out what it was on about. This commercial fails as a way to bring in a new audience, or even an old audience.

An that didn’t take a degree to tell that, it just took some common sense.

“Enough with the bitching and moaning! You’d think that everyone posting here took a degree in advertising!”

Some actually did, which is all the more reason why these movie ads fail. It’s like DC never even bothered to see how ad agencies tailor their commercial messaging to reach people in cinemas.

“How about some praise for what they are doing! Thinking outside the box!”

So far, DC’s half-measures have shown that the suits can’t even accurately describe the box they’ve painted themselves into. But I suppose one could praise them for flailing around more desperately than usual.

Well, I actually DO have a degree in marketing and I would say that – at the very best – this ad is a tremendous missed opportunity.

“So far, DC’s half-measures have shown that the suits can’t even accurately describe the box they’ve painted themselves into. But I suppose one could praise them for flailing around more desperately than usual.”

Hahahahahaha *choke, thump sound of a fanboy hitting the floor after he fell of his chair from fits of laughter*

Thats a spot on description… “Well, it looks like the thing we’ve been doing for the last 30 years is no longer working… Maybe we should do something else… Just one question… Do any of you know how to do something else… No… Okay, thats alright… I suggest we commence panicing right away… Commence arm flailing!”

As a matter of fact, I did graduate in Fine Arts with a degree in Advertising. :D But as Matthew Lane said, it only takes common sense to see this ad is fail.

“So far, DC’s half-measures have shown that the suits can’t even accurately describe the box they’ve painted themselves into. But I suppose one could praise them for flailing around more desperately than usual.”

Freakin’ funny image! But sad that if only someone put some proper thought into the ad, we could have had people at least a bit interested in what’s going to happen.

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