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 387 - History and Pastiche

Aug 7, 2018

6 likes, 1 comment

In this Quackcast Tantz and I chat about the differences between working with historical settings and the different approaches we take. Tantz's comics (Without Moonlight and Brave Resistance), are both set in a real period of history: Nazi occupied Greece during WW2. Pinky TA is set in the 1920s in an alternative version of history, with Pinky coming from the fictional “Crimean Empire”. Tantz has to keep times, places, and details close to real history while with Pinky TA I can pick and choose the things from history I like the best and create my own idealised pastiche. The advantage of Tantz's approach is that everything is there, nothing has to be invented, just researched and reproduced, whereas my approach involves a lot of creation which slows things down and makes it harder. On the upside Pinky TA is much more flexible, I can easily fit whatever I want into the story, whereas Tantz's comics are bound by the rules of the history she's presenting.

Episode 352 - Help make DD better! Comment notifications! More play

Dec 11, 2017

3 likes, 0 comments

n this Quackcast we cover a few different things! FIRST up is our latest campaign to give YOU comment and reply notifications so that you can see who has commented on your comic pages easily, you can respond to them right away, then they'll KNOW you replied and they can respond back and so on. But before we can do that we need to raise money via Indiegogo to pay for it. YOU will be helping to pay for a feature that you want. That's how the site works these days, it's our site: yours and mine. In the next part of the Quackcast we have a series of short plays that we act out. They're based on comics here at DD. We start out with custom scripts written by Tantz Aerine for Without Moonlight and Brave Resistance. And then we have a go interpreting comic pages of The Epic of Blitzov, Bottomless Waitress, Typical Strange, and Pinky TA. Which brings us to our next thing: One of the perks you can pay for to help us out with our campaign will be a custom script based on your comic. WE will write it and act it out. YOU don't have to do anything but donate. Finally we have a note from KAM that we read out, informing us of the experience of adapting his comic into a script structure and we talk about that ourselves. If you'd like to write a script for us to act out on the Quackcast, just PQ me and I'll tell you where to send it. :) This week Gunwallce has given us the theme to Bram and Vlad: Welcome to the mysterious, echoing notes of a celestial funhouse. Then settle down to a demonic, yet friendly game of cards accompanied by a jaunty, yet cheeky tune on the piano!

Episode 313 - Technical techniques

Mar 6, 2017

4 likes, 4 comments

Carrying on from last week's Quackcast discussion on tips and tricks for drawing and artwork, we jump again into the topic and THIS time we have Tantz Aerine on board to lend her perspective and tell us about even MORE little techniques to use to draw better. It's an interesting, technical cast and bellow I've kisted some examples from our own work of what we talk about. Details discussed in this episode: Establishing shots, Facial lines, Scars, Wounds, Snow, Rain, Smoke, Fire, Explosions, Gold, Fur, and Eyes. Gunwallace has given us the music to the Fading World this time, it's an oriental procession into a snowy, twilit, exotic world, unbalanced, and dangerous.

Episode 267 - The DD Community asks Banes

Apr 18, 2016

5 likes, 7 comments

In Quackcast 266 we interviewed the mad Mr Banes… We turned a giant battleship spotlight around and shone it directly into his eyes and bombarded him with high explosive armour piercing questions until he eventually failed under the onslaught, keeled over and sunk down into the depths, drowning all his brave seamen… Wait a minute, Banes isn't a ship, I got carried away with my metaphors. Anyway, that was then and this is now! THIS time we turned it over the the community instead (Pitface's idea), and they asked him all crazy insane questions. Banes answered with good humour like the amazing guy he really is :) Gunwallace gave us an amazingly cool 1980s videogame and metal themed turn for Satan Ninja 198X!

Episode 262 - DUCK Radio 3

Mar 14, 2016

6 likes, 5 comments

WELCOME to the final part of the Radio D.U.C.K. trilogy! This is where we put all the rest of Gunwallace's amazing songs AND a special treat for you as well listeners: Jimmy's Folly. Our radio DJs have gone just a little crazy this time… the brutish, hard rocking Jimmy Storm, demonic Anastasia Ravendale, and dried up old Rhet Blanket battle it out over the on air turf in the strangest way possible… BRINGING THE THUNDER! Gunwallace's amazing comic themes meanwhile are just as juicy as ever.

Episode 257 - Accents in Comics

Feb 8, 2016

4 likes, 2 comments

Using accents and different languages in comics can be a challenge, or at least a challenge to represent. Some people will actually have their text IN a different language or even a made up language in the case of aliens, and they'll have translations in a footnote. Some will use pointed brackets to represent the different language, some will use different fonts, and some won't bother showing that there is a different language being spoken at all. We spoke to Tantz Aerine and Pitface about this because that's something they both have to tackle in Brave Resistance and Tantz's solo comic Without Moonlight because it's very central to the plot: Tantz uses different colours for the languages. Pitface phonetically represents different accents in her comic Putrid Meat quite expertly. However, there can be challenges to phonetic representation when you get it wrong, most frequently in the case of Irish and Scottish accents! This was inspired by a newspost by Hippievan! Listen ad enjoy Gunwallace's audio interpretation of Aidana. VERY Pink Floyd!


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