Super Powerful Ad
January 11, 2010

A couple years ago the graphic design studio where I work, Esser Design, launched a self-marketing campaign that conceptually conveyed the message: Stand out from the crowd. We aimed to illustrate the theme through a series of images that portrayed a grouping of items wherein one from the group stood out. The images are simple and are only accompanied by our tag line: “Make your mark.” We liked the first series of images so last year we did a second series. A couple months ago we needed to design an ad for the Phoenix Business Journal’s Book of Lists and we decided to do one more.

The following images represent the first two series of our marketing campaign.


 The images were used for a variety of collateral: ads, business cards, folders, note cards, etc.


When it came time to concept the image for this year’s ad placement the team decided to do something with super hero action figures. The basic idea was then handed off to me to flesh out. It took a matter of minutes to decide that vintage Super Powers would be ideal – not only because the figures had that kitchy vintage look but also because the line had a perfect character to represent the repetitive “dull” element.

Not being in possession of either the Super Powers Superman or Clark Kent figures, creative director Steve Esser graciously granted me an adequate eBay budget for prop procurement. Both eBay sellers rushed me the figures since we were getting close to the ad’s deadline. We opted not to buy three Clark Kents so I knew there would be some extra image manipulation involved. Once I had the figures, senior designer Nathan Joseph and I scouted out a good location in downtown Phoenix for the photo shoot. It was very windy the day I took the photos which proved to be pretty aggravating. I’d set up Superman and Clark, lay down flat on some sharp landscape rocks, focus the camera, and then –whoosh– the figures would blow down. I have a few cool shots of Superman in mid fall.

The original on-location photos are cool by themselves but in the end we had to do a fair amount of photo manipulation to get this shot to jive with all the other images in the series. Hence the super-simplified background in the final picture.


When I got to work this morning I was excited to see that the 2010 Phoenix Book of Lists had been delivered. The full page ad printed well and enjoys a great spot right next to the Graphic Design firm page. So long Metropolis!



Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.





  • Jackson says:

    Those are some really great shots! I’d love to see the ones with Superman in mid-fall. Super Powers offer the perfect representation of both characters too. Unmistakable. Would have been funny though if you had used 3 JLU Galateas and 1 JLU Volcana! Probably too obscure for most people but that would have really rang a bell with certain toy collectors! Great work!

  • xrmc20 says:

    The whole group of photos is pretty cool, but the final Supes one is sooo fun to look at. Good stuff.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    “Stand out from the crowd.” – 3 Clarks and a Superman. Brilliant. Great work, Dan! Love the designs and seeing Super Powers continue to work their magic in different forms of media.

  • Tony C says:

    Congratulations on the project, it turned out great! Sometimes being a toy-geek comes in handy. And now since the assignment’s done, I’m guessing those two figures you bought were conveniently “misplaced,” right?

  • H-Balm says:

    That is a great story. Thank You for sharing!

    I can’t tell if I like the doughnut shot or the gumball shot better.
    I guess I might be hungry!

  • VinnyVincent says:

    Love it. Truly great stuff!!!

  • chad says:

    cool ad. love the three clarks and super man proving that the super powers line power is not dead yet. and no doubt the clark and super man figures wound up getting lost to wind up some new location.

  • Jason Geyer says:

    You never cease to amaze me, sir!

    Just fantastic work. The color, lighting, and design of all of those ads is just really, really nice. I can’t look at this stuff and not feel that your talents are being wasted somehow. 😉

  • Chip Cataldo says:

    Love the blog, Dan…and I love the ad.

    Can I get a copy of it for my collection? 🙂

    Hee hee…you *knew* I had to ask, right?

  • Danny CantinaDan says:

    Thanks for all the kind words! For my part, I’m just happy to have such a great cadre of like-minded fellas to share this stuff with!

  • Nice stuff, although the one Clark with the turned head is distracting, lol.

    Neat ideas.

  • Jason says:

    Very cool entry Dan! And beautiful ads!

  • stcardinal says:

    Very nice! Love the Superman design.

  • Sekmet says:

    Wonderful! Really love the overall concept. Thanks for sharing it, it made me smile.

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