The new Disney+ Marvel Series, Ms. Marvel, directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, introduces a new superhero, Kamala Khan played by Iman Vellani, who is a proud Jersey City girl through and through – and now, thanks to a brilliant billboard strategy, you can even give her a wave as you pass by her watching over us on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Ms Marvel, a.k.a. Jersey City’s Kamala Khan
The past decade in Jersey City has been one of rapid growth and change. Starting in 2013 the town welcomed in a new mayor as well as many buildings, businesses and everyday citizens to call it home. One of the most important additions came in a place many didn’t expect: the pages of Marvel Comics.
August 2013 saw Marvel introduce Kamala Khan, a super hero obsessed Pakistani-American high schooler born and raised in the heart of Jersey City.
Not only was it a huge deal to see a Muslim character headline a Marvel comic book series, for those living in JC, it was a moment where they were finally given their own hero, proudly wearing JC on her sleeve and no longer allowing the most diverse city in the country to be overshadowed by New York City being the center of the Marvel cinematic universe.
The new Ms. Marvel brought with her a breath of fresh air to the Marvel comics world, where for the first time in a long time, a new character, who is coming to grips with their incredible powers, was able to still be an adolescent figuring out their way through life.
Kamala was a Jersey City kid first and foremost and that has never changed in almost a decade of her character’s growth. Navigating the halls of McNair Academic High School (called Coles Academic in the MCU) is part of who she is and anyone who grew up in one of the many eclectic neighborhoods JC has to offer could see the authenticity her character contained.
Kamala not only represented the town in name but her stories dealt with her community in JC. She showed the real life struggle of balancing having come from a traditional religious family with being a quirky modern teen girl living in the 2010’s.
There have been issues of crime, gentrification, racial profiling and numerous other matters Jersey City citizens have to deal with daily and her stories have never been afraid to tackle those issues head on.
First JC, Now the World
Kamala is now no longer Jersey City’s unassuming hero but instead a worldwide recognized face and part of our modern storytelling mythologies.
Not only is she headlining her own series on Disney Plus but she is also scheduled to appear in next summer’s The Marvels which will have her teaming up with Captain Marvel herself on the big screen.
From there fans can expect to see her pop up in all types of Marvel Studios media becoming a major player amongst the younger generation of heroes in the MCU.
The new series premiered on Disney+ on June 8, 2022.
While the series has taken some liberties with parts of Kamala’s origin story and made some major changes to her powers and abilities compared to her comic book counterpart, one thing has stayed unchanged; that Kamala Khan is Jersey City’s hero and protector and is 100% a Jersey girl at heart.
From her school, to her family and all of the Bon Jovi references in between the live action version of Ms. Marvel not only introduces her to the world but puts New Jersey and especially Jersey City on full display to be celebrated.
With the debut of the new Ms. Marvel series featuring an innovative character came the need for innovative advertising to get more than just Jersey City excited for this new heroine.
Of course there were digital and social ads running but to bring this distinctly Jersey character to life, the team behind the show went larger-than-life with a strategic billboard advertisement that makes drivers do a double take.
On the New Jersey Turnpike at exit 14 in Newark, a giant cut-out Kamala casually sits on top of a sign reading “Welcome to New Jersey,” though as riders approach, the cut out is easily mistaken for the actual superhero herself welcoming you in.
What makes this a genius placement is the eye-catching quality of the cut out coming up from the top of the billboard, steering away from the traditional rectangle and breaking frame to get people’s attention.
Billboards are a great way for businesses to reach their audiences where they work and play, but they also need to compete against high speeds and drivers concentrating on the road, especially on the Turnpike. To capture that few seconds needed for attention, recognition, and interest, billboards need to be doing more than exist – they need to stand out, which is exactly what Ms Marvel is all about making this the perfect Jersey way to promote a true Jersey girl.
Ms. Marvel Welcomes You To New Jersey
As she sits perched atop her billboard welcoming people to the Garden State, her character is doing the same worldwide, welcoming everyone to learn about the incredibly unique place that Jersey City truly is.
For that we can all be thankful to have Ms Marvel watching over us and couldn’t ask for a better protector for JC and New Jersey as a whole.