The Real Deal was a 12-page activity book designed to help young people make better spending choices. It was published by the FTC and the National Association of Attorneys General and was aimed primarily at middle school-age children. We designed and illustrated a variety of games, puzzles, cartoons, comics and other entertaining and educational activities to help young people understand their rights and teach them responsible consumer habits.
Later, as Creative Director at JDG Communications, I had the opportunity to oversee the creation and production of an interactive website designed to be an online replacement for, and expansion of, the Real Deal booklet. I also helped with some of the illustrations, designed the HTML (508) version and fact sheet template, and even supplied the voices for some of the characters.
Through interactive games and activities designed to appeal to kids ages 11–14, site users will be introduced not only to basic economic concepts and how the market works, but also how role the FTC fosters competition and fair practices within the market. When the children enter the site, they see some of the characters from the site, including the characters that act as guides and other children that will appear throughout, in front of the mall. Kids have the opportunity to enter the mall or click on the “First Time Here” button to receive an introduction to the site.
Once they enter the mall, they choose a mall area to explore from the mall map. Each mall area has an introduction, interactive scenes and games to keep the children engaged. To enhance the interactive scenes and games, we recorded all audio and voiceovers of the characters and brought them to life using the latest innovative animation programs.
Misleading ads cause lots of problems for businesses and consumers. Visitors watch a misleading commercial and then learn how it has caused problems for everyone involved. They also learn how the FTC prosecutes companies that intentionally mislead consumers. I served as the inspiration, and provided the voice, for "David" the Gr8 Gadgets manager.
Visitors to the Food Court learn about business competition, supply and demand, the history of the FTC, and mergers and monopolies. I helped illustrate the Candytooth Kingdom and Triple Cold Creamery stores. I also provided the voice for King Candytooth.
In order to help with the workload I assisted with some of the illustrations. Here I took a concept sketch from the lead designer and fleshed it out in Adobe Illustrator so that it could be animated in Toon Boom Studio and exported as Flash files. I even designed the packaging for the candy.
The price of goods is usually determined by supply, demand, and production costs. Here, visitors guess the retail price of various candies by considering these factors.
Companies compete with each other by offering some combination of higher quality, lower prices, more choices, and better service. Visitors listen to three different sales pitches for pizza to determine which one appeals to them most. I also provided the voice for this character which bears NO resemblance to Basil Fawlty.
Visit the Security Plaza to learn about protecting your privacy (online and off), and protect the citizens of Earth against identity-stealing invaders.
At the arcade, visitors defend against Cyclorean space invaders who want to steal Earthlings’ personal information. They also learn why their personal information is valuable and what’s so important about a Social Security number. I was the voice of Colonel Commander for the "Information Defender 3" game.
Visit the East Terrace to learn about bogus modeling offers, “free” vacations, “miracle” products, and tip-offs to rip-offs.
Finally, a Parents & Teachers section offers a wealth of important information through downloadable PDF fact sheets of lessons that parents and teachers can use as an educational resource to teach their children about the marketplace. Equally important, You Are Here is a fun, interactive, and highly engaging site that can be enjoyed by students over and over again in a new way—that also teaches them critical lessons about being more savvy consumers.
The FTC was extremely pleased with the creativity used to convey the information and approved the funding for building out the new mall areas that expand the lesson content. The website received the American Graphic Design Award of Excellence in the Websites category by Graphic Design USA magazine.