“With great power comes great responsibility.” I often use this well-known quote from Spider-Man to explain ethics in public relations. Public relations professionals hold an empowered position with the clients, companies, and brands they represent. In order to be successful, they must operate in a responsible manner, rising above erroneous assumptions that far too many people have about the profession.
I was reminded of this quote last week when Spider-Man made an unexpected appearance in the Campbell Soup Company “Celebrating real, real…superpowers” commercial to promote Spider-Man soup for kids. The commercial features a child in a Spider-Man costume jumping around the house. The child’s mother deftly ignores the antics right up until she calls the child for lunch. It is at the kitchen table that the child is unmasked as a little girl. The surprise ending serves multiple purposes, each pointing to Campbell’s as a forward-thinking corporation.
This commercial taps into current social interest in representations that adequately reflect the demographic shifts in U.S. culture. It also captures the ongoing popularity of superheroes. The commercial is part of the company’s multi-platform Real Real Life Campaign, and it seems to be an effort to transform the company’s nostalgic identity into something better suited to the social media age. Fortunately for Campbell Soup Company, this latest commercial has a built-in audience—and they applaud accurate representations.
—Cheryl Ann Lambert, Ph.D.