DC Entertainment Teams With Aid Groups to Raise $2 Million-Plus, Awareness for Hunger Crisis in Africa

Justice League Art 2011
DC Comics

Justice League

With the help of the DC superheroes of the Justice League and the slogan "We Can Be Heroes," the partners hope to put a spotlight on a problem that has "not gotten the consistent understanding and awareness that it deserves," Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said.

NEW YORK - Time Warner said Monday it has partnered with aid organizations to combat the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa with the help of DC Entertainment superheroes and the slogan "We Can Be Heroes."

TW chairman and CEO Jeffrey Bewkes promised at a press event at the entertainment conglomerate's headquarters here a "very forceful, multifaceted campaign" that will take advantage of all company units, including their story telling, brand and marketing capabilities, as well as their global reach, to raise awareness and funds as social responsibility "is in the DNA of the company."

Hoping to get millions of consumer impressions to inspire people to fight the hunger crisis, the worst in more than 60 years, the campaign will draw attention to a problem that has "not gotten the consistent understanding and awareness that it deserves," Bewkes said.

Just like the Justice League, made up of such DC superheroes as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash and others, TW units are independent and have their own unique superpowers, but are hard to beat when banding together, Bewkes said.

Barry Meyer, chairman & CEO of TW's Warner Bros. unit, said TW and its partners Save the Children, Mercy Corps and International Rescue Committee have committed to raising at least $2 million in "desperately needed funds" over two years for 13 million people in need of assistance. "Jeff was supposed to rip his shirt of" like Superman, he also quipped about his CEO.

Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said the social cause will tap into and broaden the already strong image of the Justice League in a way that naturally fits the superhero group's values.

Diane Nelson, president, DC Entertainment, said her hopes tthat he campaign would rally folks of all ages around the globe.

She then introduced Cokie Roberts who is a board trustee of Save the Children, saying that the journalist is like Wonder Woman. Roberts emphasized that children in the Horn of Africa desperately need help and quipped: "I would hesitate to wear the Wonder Woman outfit."

Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Nelson said that including merchandise, such as T shirts, mugs, iPhone cases and the like that are immediately available on the site WeCanBeHeroes.org, and in-kind awareness the agreement could yield a value of  upwards of $20 million.

"For those people who know the superhero characters, their individual attributes are all critical" to supporting the good cause. "And all together, they are a great team and make the point even more effectively that there is strength in numbers." She said there are no plans to weave shorelines about the hunger crisis in Africa into DC comics. But video spots and other things will allow the company to promote the initiative across TW media platforms.

Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO of Mercy Corps, said the social initiative started with a phone call to Bewkes who brought together his units and executives. "You guys rock," he said about Bewkes and his TW team.

Robinov told THR that "the level of distress and need, with tens of thousands of kids dying, made it an easy decision to get involved." Warner will also reach out across all its distribution channels to help promote the campaign, he added.

DC is no stranger to African humanitarian efforts. In 1986, DC Comics published the 48-page one-shot Heroes Against Hunger, starring Batman, Superman and the Teen Titans with contributions by such industry talent as Jack Kirby. All proceeds of the book went to relieve hunger in Africa.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai