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 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!

Episode 409 - Meaning, Intention, and symbolism

Jan 14, 2019

2 likes, 0 comments

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 379 - Troptastic

Jun 18, 2018

5 likes, 1 comment

ALL the tropes!!!! Based on Emma Clare's newspost, tropes are damn useful but they can also be your undoing if you handle them badly. Tropes are shortcuts to meanings, scenes, procedures or jokes that take too long to set up in their own right. You can use them like prefabricated parts to build your story, Lego if you will. You really should know how to use them correctly though. If it's for jokes, then work on them and expand on them, if it's for more serious stuff then you should know WHERE those tropes come from so you use them correctly. We chat about tropes, boob-slips, Doki Doki, Baka and Test, Kung Fury, Satan Ninja 198X, and Vaporwave among other things. Gunwallace gave us a lovely theme to Yasu no Monogatari this week: Floating out on a blue river of dreams into an echoing crystal cave illuminated by thousands of refracted glittering lights, traveling on your way further underground, deeper and deeper to more exciting and mysterious sites.

Episode 348 - Action Talking

Nov 13, 2017

3 likes, 2 comments

Special treat at the start of this Quackcast, a Spang news announcement from the oooooold days of DD! This week's Quackcast is on the interesting notion that talking CAN be action. It's based on a newspost of Tantz's. I'm not quite bright enough to fully explain it here so I'll quote Tantz: “Often in making webcomics, creators may try to have more action than discourse, as it tends to make the comic more visually interesting and give opportunities to avoid ‘talking head’ scenes. However, I think that sort of conundrum is a potential trap that might prevent creators from truly making use of all the potential their story and characters have- because if done right, everything on the webcomic page IS action. Discourse or discussions between characters have a natural dynamic and pacing that has to be tapped in, in order to make the scene itself dynamic and powerful even though the character’s aren’t physical with each other.” Basically, even the talking IS action, not separate from it. The talking give the action meaning and context after-all! This week Gunwallce has given us the theme to Energize: Serious beats, plodding purposefully, harsh guitar, flashing like the pulse of a police light, eclectic electric rock, flavours of early 80s ska and post-punk create an unusually tasty mixture!

Episode 347 - Psychopomps and Death Personified

Nov 6, 2017

4 likes, 4 comments

A psychopomp is a physical manifestation of death. These are of course impossible in reality since death is a process, not a force or anything that can be personified, but culturally death has very different meanings and resonances! Most cultures have a psychopomp in one form of another, like Valkyries and Charon the boatman to name two, and there are even more in literature and movies. In this Quackcast we go back to Kawaii's great Halloween newspost where she asked people about their fave psychopomps and we talk about a few of our own. ^_^ This week Gunwallce has given us the theme to The Constellation Chronicle - In the cold, blackness of space, suddenly a twinkle appears, bright light shoots out, supercharged particles race on their path into the void at the speed of light, travelling through glowing, spidery filaments as thick as a sun that make up the frozen explosion of a giant nebula, bending their course towards the radioactive chaos of an event horizon, to take a deep dive into eternity, towards the mysterious singularity within.

Episode 341 - Objectification and porn

Sep 25, 2017

5 likes, 6 comments

In this Quackcast we chat about how objectification can rob the humanity from a character and turn them into a meaningless object which can in turn alienate your audience by making your work less relatable, but with things like porn where character is less important than the on screen action objectification is more acceptable. We chat about the development of porn and why it became so objectified, from the early beginnings where story, setting and character were always a factor, till the days of home video and the internet and how that changed the balance due to various factors, and the way higher production values, better acting and story is actually making its way back in some instances. We also chat a bit about the differences between porn aimed at women and that aimed at men. “Sexposition” in mainstream entertainment like Game of thrones is possibly an interesting outgrowth of the acceptability of pornography and the idea of mixing story and onscreen (simulated) sexuality. The theme Gunwallace has given us this week was for Tomb Busters! It's compelling, regal, atmospheric, steel guitar country rock, this is a triumphant epic that will swallow you whole and leave you gasping for air. This is my new fave!


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