As the months of drought and famine drag on in the impoverished Horn of Africa, some heroes are coming to the rescue: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, along with the rest of DC Comics' The Justice League, are the new face of a joint campaign called "We Can Be Heroes".
A joint advertising campaign by corporate partners DC Entertainment and its parent company Time Warner, Inc, (which also includes Warner Bros.,Turner Broadcasting, Time Inc., HBO), and non-profits Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps., seeks to use the famed comic book heroes to raise awareness and funds for the hunger crisis in severely affected regions of East Africa.
Time Warner Inc. has set a fundraising goal of $2 million over the next two years and will match any donations (up to $2 million). Each of the non-profit organizations will split evenly the funds donated by Time Warner.
The companies announced the campaign last week at a press conference in New York.
"We are a global company, and this is a global issue," said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. "By marshaling our expertise in consumer and fan engagement and creating global awareness, we hope we're able to inspire others to join us in becoming 'heroes' and make a difference in the Horn of Africa."
Time Warner will run ads and public service announcements featuring the Justice League online and in comics, television programs and possibly in theaters. Special Justice League merchandise will also be available for sale.
According to the World Bank's latest comprehensive statistics, drought has put nearly 13.3 million people in urgent need of humanitarian aid across Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, and aid agencies have not been able to help all of them. The U.S. State Department estimates that as many as 4 million people will remain at risk of starvation through August.
Drought, in addition to pervasive war in countries outside of the Horn like Sudan and Tanzania, has caused millions of refugees to flee to already resource-depleted areas of East Africa.
Carrie Welch, senior vice-president of external relations at the International Rescue Committee, thinks that the campaign will help turn public attention to the suffering in the region.
"It's not on the front page, not the top of the news," she said. "People will be affected by this for years to come, so any kind of creative, innovative thinking is good for us and very good for the people that we serve."
Welch hopes that the advertising may attract the attention of children, who have the power to help influence where the charity dollars may go, though they are often forgotten by organizations seeking donations.
"Kids see this and they go home and begin to talk to their parents about the crisis in the horn of East Africa," Welch said, adding that her 13-year-old daughter is excited about the campaign. "It adds a touch of coolness to what I do," she said.