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 416 - Making cuts

Mar 4, 2019

3 likes, 6 comments

The entire team is here this time, no one was cut… So we're chatting about CUTTING, as in cutting out scenes to make a story cleaner, leaner and less flabby, but also NOT cutting because in a webcomic you don't have to, and when you cut badly you end up with a “D movie” effect where story scenes don't follow, don't make sense and plots seem to go nowhere or happen for no reason.

Episode 415 - lazy solutions cause plot-holes!

Feb 25, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast expands on my newspost from Friday about forgotten abilities causing plot holes, but now bunny Banes and Lady Tantz wade in to lend their genius to my silly ideas and we chat about what the real issues are: bad writing and laziness! This is when a character gains the ability to walk through walls or become bullet proof or go back in time and then forgets it for the rest of the story or in the sequel When basically 80% of the problems they encounter could be solved by it… And you're mentally screaming at them “Use your damn power that you got 20 pages ago… Remember that thing that would help you avoid all this trouble!?” Using easy solutions to get out of problems causes plot-holes! And your audience will hate you for it.

Episode 414 - Bad Hollywood

Feb 18, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

Hollywood has a tendency to simplify or completely alter stories to make them more mainstream and appealing to their idea of a popular audience. In this Quackcast we thought it'd be fun to run with that idea and re-imagine our works for “Hollywood”.

Episode 413 - Breaking structure

Feb 11, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

It's just Ozoneocean and bouncy Banes today. This time we're chatting about breaking and subverting structures, formulas and conventions in webcomics. Commercial creative projects need to use formulas and familiar structures because that's what audiences expect, it's also what studio executives, creative editors, publishers, producers and all the people that greenlight those projects need and expect as well. The Hero's Journey and other conventions and formulas aren't just used because they make good stories but because of the commercial realities and risk averse nature of the industry (there's a lot of money and jobs on the line). Webcomics don't have those pressures so we're talking about why webcomics shouldn't necessarily adhere to popular formulas and structures and why many don't.

Episode 412 - Hiatusssss D:

Feb 4, 2019

4 likes, 4 comments

A huge thank you to the fantastic Amelius, creator of Charby the Vampirate! We mined her great newspost on the topic of the comic hiatus for this Quackcast. When you're reading a comic and it goes on Hiatus it's an awful thing… suddenly all progress stops and you don't know for how long it will be gone for. Some authors are great, they'll reach a point where they can't work anymore for some reason or they'll take a little break, but they will tell you they're going on a hiatus and when their comic will return- and Lo, it comes back exactly when they said it would. Crappy authors will say they're going on a hiatus and never return.

Episode 411 - The Right to Copy!

Jan 28, 2019

4 likes, 5 comments

Copyright is a huge thing! It allows us to make money from our creations and stops other people from stealing them. But culture isn't about a series of billions of totally original ideas invented from nothing- absolutely NOT. Culture grows from ideas that are recycled, reiterated, and reinvented. It's all quite derivative and mixed. So there has to be a balance between respect for rigid copyright and some flexibility to work with existing ideas.

Episode 410 - Say My Name

Jan 20, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

Coming up with character names can be a real challenge because once you settle on one they can define the character just as much as their personality and looks! Names also affect how you name other characters: are they too similar, like Betty and Barney? Will it be an unintentionally meaningful combo like George and Washington? There are so many things to consider, it can be daunting. In this Quackcast we talk about some of the methods that duckers have used to come up with character names. It's pretty novel and interesting, anything from using friend's names, names that have special meaning to them, names that have inerrant meaning, names that deliberately have NO meaning, place-holder names, names from the phonebook and more. Your options, methods, and reasons are endless! Tell us what's behind YOUR character names!


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