I’ve been tracking the (over)use of “hero” in branding for about a year. I rounded up my findings for a Visual Thesaurus column last September on “‘Hero’ Worship,” but the “hero” pileup continues, as these recent sightings indicate:
Discovery Communications’ Military Channel rebranded last week as the American Heroes Channel. (Whoops—“not a rebrand but a broadening,” said group president Henry Schleiff.) “American Heroes Channel expands on the American Heroes Channel’s [sic] promise to honor the great defenders of our freedom, while providing a rare glimpse into major events that shaped our world and the trailblazers and unexpected advocates who made a difference,” according to a press release.
All that, plus a “What Gun Are You?” quiz.
Draper University of Heroes is an unaccredited institution whose curriculum does not, you may surprised to hear, include CPR, firefighting, or hostage negotiations. Rather, students learn “media training,” “branding,” “fundraising,” and “innovation.”
From the home page:
Located in Silicon Valley, Draper University of Heroes is the brainchild of free-spirited venture capitalist Tim Draper, aka “The Riskmaster”. We are an unconventional world-class residential and online school for the brightest young entrepreneurs from around the world. We built this school because the world needs more heroes.
Tim Draper, a founder of the venture-capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, is on the record as saying he modeled Draper U after Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. He even borrowed the lightning-bolt motif for his logo.
No Quidditch amid the course offerings, although one enterprising student boasted to TechCrunch that he was selling sex toys as part of a class assignment.
Meanwhile, Tim Draper was lately in the news because of his ballot initiative to split California into six states.
Finally, if you watched last Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast you were assailed with the show’s theme, “A Celebration of Movie Heroes.” The definition of “hero” was a little elastic, encompassing Superman, Tom Joad, Karen Silkwood, and—that pint-size wizard again!—Harry Potter. After the ritual In Memoriam montage Bette Midler sang “The Wind Beneath My Wings”; “Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?” never sounded more sycophantic than when accompanied by a portrait of “Julian Meyers, publicist.” And best-actor winner Matthew McConaughey told the audience that his hero is “myself, ten years from now.”