The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products is partnering with Marvel Comics for a vaping prevention campaign targeting teenagers.
The effort, from FCB New York, falls under their ongoing tobacco prevention platform, “The Real Cost,” and comes to life through a 16-page comic book called “The Mind Control Menace.”
The comic looks to warn teens about the perils of vaping through a hero vs. villain plot line that takes place at a high school, showing how vape users can quickly become subservient to nicotine and the cravings it manifests in one’s brain.
It was developed and brought to life in collaboration with Marvel creators, including Marvel Creative Lead Darren Sanchez.
The campaign unfolds in three forms: a digital static comic that lives on Marvel.com, an animated comic in five chapters that lives on Marvel.com and YouTube, and a printed comic book. Creative extensions will include online videos, social posts, custom display banners, digital assets and a landing page on TheRealCost.gov.
Marvel will also produce a time-lapse video showing its illustrators working on a full-page frame.
The animated version has been teased out in chapters, leading up to the full static and animated comic. All content will be accessible through September and free to Marvel fans.
This marks the latest phase of FDA’s “The Real Cost” initiative, which kicked off in 2014 to combat cigarette smoking among teens. In 2018, the program expanded its focus, prompted by the dramatic rise in vaping (38.9% of high school teens in the U.S. reported using e-cigarettes frequently), and FCB New York launched the agency’s first vaping education campaign that same year.
"For most teens, high school is a time to enjoy more independence and self-reliance. With our partners at Marvel, we’re framing addiction as an entity that subverts that freedom — which, for a 16-year-old, makes for a perfect villain,” said Gary Resch, FCB's executive vice president/executive creative director, in a press release.