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Advertising / Superman vs. Nick O'Teen

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"Superman vs. Nick O'Teen" is an advertising campaign started by the Health Education Council that ran in The '80s. It consisted of a series of televised and written ads starring Superman, as he repeatedly thwarts the evil plans of a character named Nick O'Teen, a typical top hat and cape-wearing villain, who continually tries to give cigarettes to children.

The print ads were published in magazines and comic books. The three televised ads were traditionally-animated Public Service Announcements by Richard Williams' studio. The shorts are quite notable for their high-quality animation, largely provided by Eric Goldberg.

You can watch all three ads here.

Tropes featured in Superman vs. Nick O'Teen include:

  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Nick O'Teen tries to get children to smoke cigarettes because... he's evil! Note that he never sells the cigarettes or demands money for them, he just hands them over.
  • Anthropomorphic Vice: Nick O'Teen is a personification of the dangers of smoking, and he's portrayed as The Aggressive Drug Dealer.
  • Arc Words: "Never say yes to a cigarette." Superman says this once in every ad.
  • Big Bad: Nick O'Teen is the main villain of all the ads, and is treated as the one responsible for drug addiction and the damages it causes.
  • The Cameo: Well-known Superman characters Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen make a short appearance in the third commercial.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Nick O'Teen is an Obviously Evil dude (with a mustache in the first commercial) with a cape and a top hat (the latter of which is colored like a cigarette) who offers cigarettes to children, only to be stopped by Superman for a Drugs Are Bad message.
  • Dirty Coward: Nick O'Teen usually tries to run or slink away when Superman shows up. Justified because Superman has a variety of superhuman abilities and Nick O'Teen has none.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The series is dedicated to teaching children that cigarettes are harmful.
  • Evil Laugh: Nick O'Teen does the "nyeh heh heh" variety in the first TV ad, when some kids are about to take the cigarettes he's offering.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: In the TV ads, Nick O'Teen is voiced with a deep rasp. This is probably because the character smokes so much.
  • The Hero: Superman always steps in to save the children from the evil Nick O'Teen.
  • Home-Run Hitter: In the first TV ad, Superman dispatches Nick O'Teen by throwing him into the sky. There's no Twinkle in the Sky, though.
  • Ironic Echo: In the first TV ad, Nick O'Teen claims that cigarettes will help the kids "grow up fast." Superman tells O'Teen he'll help him "go up fast" and throws him into the sky.
  • Loved by All: The children always cheer when Superman arrives.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Nick O'Teen, obviously. The second commercial has him lie to the children that quitting smoking is easy, but when Superman crushes O'Teen's cigarettes, O'Teen quickly devolves into begging for one.
  • Punny Name: Nick O'Teen. Nicotine. He's a drug addict who tries to get children addicted to cigarettes.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: In the third TV ad, Nick O'Teen wears this outfit to pass himself off as a friendly wizard to gain the children's trust.
  • Secondary Color Nemesis: Nick O'Teen mostly wears orange and light colors (to mimic the colors of a cigarette), which contrasts Superman as a Primary-Color Champion.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: The ads teach that smoking is dangerous and damages your body, and Nick O'Teen, who tries to convince others to smoke, is a low-down villain.
  • Villainous Underdog: Once Superman arrives, there's nothing Nick O'Teen can do to stop him from foiling his plans.
  • X-Ray Vision: Superman mentions this classic power of his in the first TV ad, claiming that with it, he can see "the harm that cigarettes do inside people's bodies."

"That's why I never say yes to a cigarette."


Video Example(s):


That's how hard it is.

And that's why I never say yes to a cigarette.

How well does it match the trope?

4.78 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / MustHaveNicotine

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