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 371 - PC GORN MAD!!

Apr 23, 2018

5 likes, 0 comments

Everyone tends to have a strong opinion on Political Correctness so I thought why don't we try and have a chat about that and ask what people think. Can it be a problem in comics and other creative works? I was inspired by a video by Youtuber Metaron. He was talking about the decision to put a black actor in the role of Greek mythical figure Achilles in a BBC series about the fall of Troy and questioning the reasoning for it given that being a blonde haired incarnation of the sun-god Apollo is a huge part of the character. My main issue is that the actor is as bald as an egg! At least give him a blonde wig, I don't care how silly it looks. To be fair Achilles has rarely been portrayed well on the big screen, there was Brad Pitt's petulant version in Troy and an even balder Joe Montana in Helen of Troy! Do we spoil creative works by trying to be too inclusive or not being inclusive enough? This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Wanted dead or dead: Welcome to a much cooler version of the old west… we open on a widescreen panorama shot of a dry, dusty desert scene and a lone cowboy all in black, kicking his toe in the dirt. This music is as warm as the hot desert breeze, the guitar is as hard as gunmetal.

Episode 368 - the Blahcast!

Apr 2, 2018

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Welcome to another Quackcast! in this “blahcast” we talk about a lot of different subjects. This Quackcast also sees the arival of a NEW feature! It's the Princess January Show, by VinoMas! Where all the hot gos about popularity on DD is covered. Pitface tells us that Fury is the greatest tank movie ever, I correctly state that Tankgirl owns that honour. We chat about mistaken criticism of a movie or webcomic based on what we WANTED it to be rather than what it was, Suckerpunch being a prime example, but also the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Bad promotion also sinks projects especially films like John Carter on Mars. We chat about Star Wars The Force Awakens AGAIN! Which leads us to badly written female characters: a strong character is a well defined character that drives a story, not characters that are physically strong, they CAN be, but it has nothing to do with being a “strong” character. It's like the famous “survival of the fittest”: “fittest” does not mean “strongest”, it means the best “fit” for a situation. So those are some of the pop-culture things we “blah” about. We have a university student doing a study on webcomics. Please consider filling out her survey, linked in our links section! This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Project Prince. The simple plucked wire chords introduce us to a dark future scene. Synthesised organ and gentle patter of brushes on cymbals tip us off to the action to come. Loud distorted electric guitars give us the feel of a late night 1980s SciFi action movie

Episode 337 - Interview with AmeliaP of Kings Club

Aug 28, 2017

4 likes, 4 comments

This week we interview the artist and creator of the comic Kings Club, AmeliaP! Her comic was featured and Gunwallace also gave it a theme tune that was featured in Quackcast 335. AmeliaP is a talented professional comic creator and game designer. We couldn't interview her directly because she's not confident enough in her spoken English, so what we've done instead is read out a written interview that I did with her especially for this Quackcast. Amelia has some surprising and valuable insights for comic creators. You can read the full text of her interview bellow. Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Abejitas - This tune bounces in like a wild thing, spinning and buzzing crazily, full of black striped yellow techno sweet honey madness and rapid wingbeats of energy, this will sting you into full awareness!

Episode 333 - Retcon the retcon

Jul 24, 2017

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The thing with retcons is that the author tends to get an idea which makes them want to go back over their story and redo or tweak the whole thing again, that's what's happened here… well sort off. Banes had some more ideas on the subject that he wanted to share, so we dove into the whole thing again! We were helped by a Websnark article on the subject linked to us by Kam in a comment on the last retcon Quackcast. It's a useful guide, breaking down the different kinds of retcon into five types: Category One: Now Revealed! A Lost Tale of the Hero! Category Two: The Story You Thought You Knew! Category Three: The Real Story You Thought You Knew! Category Four: The Story You Thought You Knew Was Right, But Now There's Been A Change! Category Five: Meet the New Hero, Not The Same As The Old Hero Because That Never Happened! In this Quackcast we expand upon those concepts. Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Lego Space - It’s Block time! The sound here brings to mind the techno-mechanistic world of Lego, and especially the bright and glittering transparent blocky world of SPACE lego, vectors, angles, and joins!

Episode 320 - Making the reader believe

Apr 24, 2017

4 likes, 2 comments

In this Quackcast I wanted to talk about the magic of authorship: how the creator of a story sets up the whole situation so that they can convince the reader of anything. You can write a story about the smartest man in the world, and the reader will believe that they are, within the story, because you set it up that way: not just by having other characters reacting to them and forming that impression, but also independently convincing the audience of it as well by having them solving riddles and such or knowing lots of languages, quoting literary texts etc, but the creator doesn't have to be a very smart person themselves… Like Sherlock Holmes is seen as super smart because he's meant to, but Arthur Conan Doyle wasn't a super genius himself. You can write about a Casanova type charmer who's fantastic with the opposite sex and readers will believe, but only if you set the stage well enough. You as the creator set the parameters for anything to happen. Without having certain abilities or skills yourself, you can create a character with totally convincing skills far outside of yourself. The music for this week by Gunwallace is for The Gloom, it's creepy, ghostly, unsettling, uneven. This one gets under your skin and keeps you off-balance.

Episode 290 - Characters coming alive

Sep 26, 2016

3 likes, 1 comment

The idea fr this Quackcast was inspired by a Korean TV series that Tantz Aerine recommended called “W” (http://myasiantv.se/drama/w/). The show is about a manga artist who does a super popular webcomic. He wants to quit doing it and has decided to end by killing off his main character, but his main character seems to have ideas of his own about that… Tantz and I thought about how that could apply to us real webcomicers. That's a fantasy situation, but if it could happen, which of your characters would do that? Which one is independent enough from you that they would want to take on a life of their own and fight you? Incorporated in this are the idea of characters “breaking the fourth wall” and the fictional characters becoming so well realised and independent from the author (so to speak), that they seem to influence the direction of a story against the intentions off the writer. People will often talk about characters seemingly writing the story themselves or taking things in directions the writer never wanted to go. So that's what we chat about! You really should check out “W”, it's a great series! This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to HardLuckComics. It's full of energy and vive, driving. This is working music! This is the intro to the drive time program on the radio! This is “the news”!

Episode 270 - Historical Accuracy Vs Story Needs part 2

May 9, 2016

3 likes, 0 comments

We return to the topic of historical accuracy versus the needs the the story. This was Bravo's idea and we wanted to have him along but alas it was not to be! Tantz Aerine, Pitface, Banes and I discuss the topic, reading from a few of the many contributions in the form thread that Bravo started. Special congratulations to Pitface who's just graduated with honours with her BA in classics! -So you she really does KNOW what she's talking about… as does Tantz too of course. Banes and I are just along for the ride. Gunwallace gave us a really pretty tune for the comic Torn Vines, a real action music, such a driving rhythm to it!


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