After years spent branding corporations and products, London-based Twelve Stars Communications has turned to branding a political entity. If it works, when kids think of the European Union in the new millennium, they will also think of a new superhero: Captain Euro.
‘He’s fun, he’s friendly and he appeals to all Europeans because he’s totally multicultural and non-political,’ reads the
promotional material. ‘Everyone will want to identify with the Captain Euro brand. It brings emotion to the concept of a united Europe, adding value to products and services.’ While claims the WASPish Captain is ‘totally multicultural’ and ‘non-political’ are debatable, the fact that he’s garnering attention is beyond dispute. Thus far, the new symbol of European unity has received coverage from the BBC, RTL Germany, Reuters Worldwide, CNBC Europe, KNET Belgium, Fuji TV Japan, Newsweek International, Time
magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and the U.K.’s Sunday Times. All in all, CIA Medianetwork International estimates the Captain has already received about US$2 million worth of coverage worldwide.
Captain Euro’s creator, and the president of Twelve Stars, Nicolas De Santis came up with the branding idea back in 1991, but
after a year spent searching for the essence of the European
identity, he came up empty-handed. ‘We were asking people if it meant anything to be a European,’ says De Santis. ‘The answer was no.’ Undaunted, De Santis came up with various logos, and then started looking for a symbolic animal. His search for an
animal that lived in Europe and wasn’t already taken as a national symbol proved difficult. All he came up with was the cow.
Finally in 1992, inspired by Captain America’s success in the U.S., De Santis settled on the superhero. ‘A character is something people identify with more easily and more quickly than a logo,’ he says. ‘It’s a human figure that’s talking to you.’ The new property was then assigned the task of spreading the twofold message of ‘strength in unity, but unity in diversity’ to kids across Europe.
So far, this is being accomplished primarily through a Web site, which De Santis says is already receiving 700,000 visits per month, and a syndicated comic strip running in three newspapers. The property has also been licensed to CNBC and U.S. investment firm Ivy Mackenzie to illustrate material dealing with the new Euro currency.
Now that the Captain has gained some recognition, De Santis says he’s ready to take him to the next level. The main areas slated for development are licensing, media and entertainment,
education, information campaigns, Web site advertising, sports
marketing and promotional endorsement. De Santis says he is currently developing a live-action interactive Captain Euro TV show that he hopes to sell into syndication, a Captain Euro computer game, a primary school education program, licensing deals for stationery and electronics, and an ‘official Captain Euro product’ endorsement program.
De Santis emphasizes that the property has no official ties to the European parliament, although president José Maria Gil-Robles has publicly supported the campaign. De Santis does admit that ‘it’s a federalist message,’ and that alone has earned the Captain some controversy. Various political figures and groups, such as British Tory MP Sir Teddy Taylor, the British anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, the Belgian left-wing publication Spectre, and Swedish member of the European Parliament Jonas Sjostedt, have
publicly condemned the property.
‘It’s a fact of life. What can you do about it?’ De Santis says of the opposition. ‘But every hero has a battle to win. Captain Euro’s battle is not with the Euroskeptics-he’s got bigger fish to deal with.’