Batman, Superman and the rest of the Justice League of America are about to start fighting the famine in the Horn of Africa as part of We Can Be Heroes, a massive effort by DC Entertainment, Time Warner and three key NGOs to provide food and nourishment to those in need.
The campaign, announced on Monday, will donate up to $2 million over two years to three organizations working to stop the famine: MercyCorps, Save the Children and the the International Rescue Committee.
We Can Be Heroes uses the DC Comics line of superheroes — including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and the Green Lantern — to help raise awareness (and money) for a good cause. DC has promised to match any and all donations made through WeCanBeHeroes.org up to $1 million.
DC and other Time Warner divisions, such as Warner Bros., will all participate in corporate matching plans wherein any money donated by employees will be matched by their parent organization.
There is also an eshop where you can purchase clothing or accessories with 50% of the profits going to the three charities.
The whole campaign centers around the idea of “heroes” and how anyone (not just a superbeing born on Krypton) can change the world. The campaign’s tagline — “One small act can make you a hero” — extends not just to the everyday people but to the African’s suffering on the ground, said George Rupp, International Rescue Committee’s president and CEO.
Such people often have to fight for survival or overcome great odds to provide for their families and are also heroes, Rupp says.
The odds are not in Africa’s favor. The famine is the worst to hit the region in 60 years with more than 13 million people currently at risk. More than 750,000 children under the age of five are malnourished and in Somalia alone, one child dies every six seconds.
Yet despite those stats, the famine in the Horn of Africa has received comparatively little media attention. The public mind and wallet is often drawn to acute and sudden disasters — the natural disasters in Haiti and Japan, for example — but it is harder to engage the public with slow burning or more complicated crises such as the famine in Africa.
That’s the real value of We Can Be Heroes. The hope is that by using recognizable superheroes, Times Warner and its NGO partners can leverage the DC brand to raise awareness and create mainstream interest in fighting the famine.
“America is a wonderful country about generosity when we know about the problem and that’s what this particular partnership is about,” said Cokie Roberts, political commentator and Board Trustee for Save the Children. “This campaign will have superheroic help which will make a tremendous difference.”
DC has been fighting famine for some time when, 20 years ago, it released “Heroes Against Hunger,” a comic book meant to shine a light on the hunger crisis in Ethiopia.
DC is now throwing money and media behind their corporate responsibility. For Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros., it’s a way to show that corporations can also be heroes: “There’s a huge wealth gap in this country and I think corporations have an obligation to a bottom line, but they can also be enormously generous,” Robinov said.
After two years, DC will take a survey of whether We Can Be Heroes has made a difference — but that won’t be the end of the line. The partnership will continue to look for ways to help and to involve its own employees in causes around the world. As with like DC’s Justice League, Time Warner is hoping its individual divisions can form one unbeatable team.
We’ve heard of celebrities helping a cause, but should superheroes get involved? What about We Can Be Heroes do you like and what could be done better? Let us know in the comments below.
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