Episode 417 - Can we be better?

Mar 11, 2019

What is Social Marketing? Basically its word-of-mouth and viral marketing smashed together and weaponised: Marketing companies hijack hot-button social issues and hitch their client's brand to them in clever campaigns (“We can be better”, etc). The purpose isn't really to make a brand seem progressive, modern or new, rather it's another way of getting it trending on social media that's guaranteed to work, unlike the legion of hit or miss but mostly failed “Viral” campaigns. Whether people say negative or positive things about this issue is irrelevant to the marketer, as long as people are talking about the brand is all that matters. Free advertising is the goal, but it has a social cost.

Topics and Show Notes

This has led to issues because the so called “culture wars” divide people in artificial ways. The way the social issues are presented in these campaigns is often overly simplified and so can sometimes be harmful to the issue itself. Fallout over community discussion can bring unwanted attention to the brand… People are random factors and can run with things in unexpected ways: actors can go off-message, people can get together and organise campaigns to review bomb things or even hound actors off-of social media, studios can get nervous and throw their weight around using their advertising budget (the threat of withholding it) as a bludgeon to kill websites…

So much for the theory, what are examples of social marketing?
A recent famous example was the “We can be better” video done for the razor company Gillette. The message was didactic and simplistically constructed, but what you'd expect from a marketing company. It was an enormous success though: it was fuel to the fire of the “culture-wars” and massively increased the profile of the Gillette brand. The campaign was trending on all social media, videos were made about it, blog posts, comments, rants, news articles and so on. The Gillette got far more than their money's worth with what they paid their marketing company.
The social marketing of recent movies, the Ghostbusters reboot and the new Captain Marvel film caused problems (not the films themselves). Social marketers wanted us to think they were socially progressive and politically aware, promoting female empowerment, when in reality they're simply big budget, well-produced mainstream entertainment, the same as any other. The social marketing added to their profiles but also caused them to become pawns in the culture wars: by advertising love or hate of them people signal allegiance to a raft of other social issues and positions.

Another early, but good example is the famous “Fearless Girl”
This is a bronze sculpture that was commissioned by an advertising company, its purpose was to market a new female focussed investment fund on Wall street. As an aesthetic piece of art it's awful, looking like a Disney figurine; pure ugly kitsch. It also unfairly re-contextualised the older Charging Bull statue which it was put in front of. It looked like the girl was bravely facing it down which made the bull an evil villain. The bull sculpture had been created by an artist to celebrate the vitality of and dynamism of American business culture while this new sculpture was essentially fake art, a marketing gimmick created by an advertising company. However the unintentional result was that the sculpture became an icon of female empowerment, far beyond the small scope of the investment fund it was promoting. Bad, false art that it was, it actually became a successful “Good” art piece because it resonated and communicated so well with people everywhere, albeit with a far different meaning than was originally intended. It's now world famous.

The problem with social marketing
Companies ARE made up of individuals and they can support whatever ideals they like, as they should. This can genuinely be reflected in the products of those companies, this is perfectly ok. The problem comes when marketers insert issues as an artificial layer as part of a marketing campaign. Progressive issues are too important to be hijacked by marketers.
The world is being divided more and more and the power of the individual is getting smaller, social marketing campaigns usually only exacerbate the problem. They hijack left-wing progressive issues and attempt to manipulate masses of people. They are not a genuine contribution to the cultural discussion, they aren't sincere, they are not organic, and they have more resources and a bigger voice so that they cause imbalance and contention. The web used to be a massive, chaotic, democratic morass, now it is dived amongst a much smaller number of media companies: Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter etc, so that it's very easy for corporations to manipulate and attempt to control social sentiment while also shutting down the voice of the community.

How can we combat social marketing?
Calling out social marketing for what it is, that's a start: Recognise when something is attempting to manipulate you and instead of engaging with it (“This movie will be amazing because it's about this social issue!” or “This film is horrible because it's about this social issue!”) say what it's really doing: “This film is no more an advocate for that social issue than any other, I will see it because I like the content. The marketing campaign attempting to promote it as socially aware is false and manipulative”. But simply ignoring fake controversies the same way we do with viral ad campaigns is probably best.
Progressive people should not be fooled into thinking a corporate entity properly represents issues and nor should those who are against them. No one should be tricked into doing the work of a marketing company, you are not being paid and they don't deserve the free help.

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to The Lightning Orb: Zaps, shocks, sparks, electrified plasma arcing through open air with the hot burning smell of fresh ozone… invisible pulses through flat gold wire circuits printed on green silicon as electrons are exchanged at almost the speed of light.

Topics and shownotes

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Featured comic:
Redneck - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/mar/04/featured-comic-redneck/

Links:
Banes' newspost about Gag orders - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/feb/28/gag-orders/
Banes' comic strip We Can Do Better - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/jan/16/we-can-do-better/
Fearless Girl and the bull - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fearless_Girl

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/banes
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean

Featured music:
The Lightning Orb - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/The_Lightning_Orb/, by AWilsonnn, rated T.

Episode 409 - Meaning, Intention, and symbolism

Jan 14, 2019

2 likes, 1 comment

The topic we discussed in this Quackcast was looking for symbolism, meaning and intention in comics: The English literature approach! Deeper meanings and all that. It's fun to do actually and sometimes you really can hit upon the intentions of the creator, uncover NEW meanings, or just do it to entertain yourself. We used our own comics for an example and talked about things beyond the superficial for a change. For example: Banes' comic Typical Strange is a sitcom set in a video rental store, staffed by a group of characters that make up the cast. Why is it set in a place that is clearly decades out of date and relevance? A video rental place is an anachronism in this time. Is it saying that the characters themselves are stuck in time? It's a sitcom comic so situations often reset or rewind back to the status Quo, so that interpretation would seem to fit… Of course that wasn't Banes' deliberate intention but it's fun to think about that way.

Episode 401 - Stan Lee, a stupid comedian, and the new prudes

Nov 19, 2018

3 likes, 4 comments

This is Quackcast 401! Error, error! Pitface and Tantz were absent so Banes and myself were left to go quietly off the rails and expostulate all sorts of radical, half formed, badly articulated thoughts. This is an interesting one! We cover the death of the great Stan Lee, titan of the comics and superhero world. Then we sidestream into talking about comedians trying to be political commentators (re: Bill Maher)… I must apologise for my Ad Hominems. And lastly our focus is on a “new puritanism” in some aspects of pop-culture. It all ties together, if a little awkwardly.

Episode 400 - Pros&cons of webcomic creation!

Nov 12, 2018

3 likes, 0 comments

In this Quackcast DD members tell us about their history with us as well as the pros and cons of webcomicing. This is the 400th episode of the Quackcast! That means we've been doing these for over 8 years now. That's quite a milestone for a podcast. We have JustNoPoint over to help us out, he's a Patron at the $20 “Royal” level so he gets a few perks. JustNoPoint has been with us since 2006 with his comic The Devon Legacy. He managed the awards for many years and was crucial to us getting the site back online when we had our hard crash in August of 2013 that destroyed the site so thoroughly that it had to be rebuilt, a job which took us all TWO months!

Episode 398 - The sum of all Fears

Oct 29, 2018

4 likes, 5 comments

This week in the Quackcast we were going to talk about fear in general. What are we afraid of? Why do we like or do not like media that may reflect these fears or lead us to new ones? How do such things inspire fear or similar reactions within us. DO we like horror because we like fear to an extent? It's that Halloween time of year once again so it's time to focus on such things. We had Emma Clare on board as well! Oh it was going to be so amazing and fun! Little did we know…

Episode 397 - Horror Comics

Oct 22, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

Fear: What are we afraid of? Why do we like or do not like media that may reflect these fears or lead us to new ones? How do such comics inspire fear or similar reactions within us. DO we like horror because we like fear to an extent? This Quackcast is about horror comics, how they work and why we like them. We chat about many of the horror comics on DD.

Episode 391 - personality mix group dynamics

Aug 19, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast was based on an idea from Banes. We chat about designing a group of characters with complementary temperaments. In Banes' own words: “I like the idea of the line between a logical, left brained person and a creative, right brained person, crossed with a spectrum of a more active, extroverted, action taking temperament and a more nurturing, introverted type.

Episode 386 - These are the books that made us

Aug 6, 2018

3 likes, 0 comments

In this Quackcast Tantz, Banes and I have a chat about the novels that influenced us when we were growing up. Each of us barely even touch on them but we do bring up some interesting titles… for Tantz it was the sexy comic Storm and the novel The gods of Foxcroft, for me it was the high fantasy of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, and later on SciFi by writer like Tanith Lee and her Don't bite the Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine- both of which were very prophetic novels in the way they deal with hedonistic youth culture and the modern phenomenon of adults having extended childhoods while outsourcing more and more adult tasks to technology. What were some of your most influential novels when growing up?


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