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 403 - Eat yer serial!

Dec 2, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast was inspired by a newspost by Tantz. There seems to be this prevailing idea at the moment that serialised storytelling is better than episodic style stories. Tantz informs me that it's one of the many Twitterverse controversies! So let me explain what I mean here: Episodic story telling is when most of the story you're telling can be parcelled into the course of an episode: you can have a strong beginning, middle and satisfying conclusion in the course of your episode, whether that takes the form of a comic chapter, a page, a strip, or a half hour TV show. The Serial style has things stretching over multiple chapters or TV episodes. What we talk about in this Quackcast is that it's an utterly false dichotomy: You do not have to have either or, in fact most projects have elements of BOTH at the same time and it's a little foolish to think that one style could possibly be inherently superior to the other since they're just tools for telling a story. It is up to the creator to pick which one is right for their own work and the context in which it's going to be shown.

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 383 - Slow burn

Jul 16, 2018

5 likes, 4 comments

The idea for this Quackcast came from a rant by the irascible PitFace. She was talking about how there's a trend in modern SciFi and horror movies to bash you over the head with constant action and it doesn't allow you time to relax and take in the story, you're just bounced from one relentless scene to the next. In the biggest classics of the genre like Alien, Ghost in the Shell (animated 90's version) or Blade Runner they DO allow the viewer slow moments of reflection and it helps to make the action feel more intense by contrast as well as allowing the viewer time to assimilate and understand all the ideas and themes they've been presented with so far.

Episode 376 - Comic Tutorials

May 28, 2018

3 likes, 0 comments

kawaiidaigakusei makes a return to the Quackcast! Together with the crew we chat about some of our favourite comic making tutorials on DD. Yes, there IS a tutorials section on the site and people have created some amazing and clever tutes on how to both write and draw better when making your comics. There are some cool instructions on how to make better pages, write scripts, do rain effects, all sorts of shortcuts and clever tit-bits of info to have you creating like a pro. This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Potato and Kraut. Feel the gigantic weight this music layers onto your shoulders. A synthesised torrent of gravity, followed by the heavy, deep notes of a piano dropping on top of you like frozen slabs. The torrent slowly eases, brings light and relief, then fades away.

Episode 373 - Stupid millennials, greedy baby-boomers and lazy Gen Xers!

May 7, 2018

4 likes, 5 comments

Millennials are so dumb, Gen Xers are SO lazy, and those Baby-boomers are just greedy as hell aren't they? But seriously, in THIS Quackcast we chat about the different generations of webcomicers and what's changed and what we have to learn from each other. The first generation of real webcomics came in with Sluggy Freelance, 8 bit theatre and a few others. Webcomics started out in the mid 90s as the web version of “Zines”: independent creator driven personal projects. The second generation came about in the 2000s. Sites like Drunk Duck and Keen Space were a huge part of that. It made it easier for creators to make the jump online. We'd seen what those first guys did and now it was OUR turn, there were a lot of copy-cats in this generation, but a lot of experimentation and creativity too, with sound, animation, interactivity and infinite canvas being a mainstay. Later there was an explosion in hosting sites like DD and comicers moved on to other formats like Tumbler and Twitter etc. The pro comic publishers saw how things were going and tried to get in on the act with online comics too. I think the 3rd generation saw a lot of commercial focussed projects. Comicers saw it as a way to make money so we had a lot of slick, pro work flooding in. In the 4th generation I think we have people doing comics for mobile devices or ON mobile devices. A lot of the comic hosting sites have far more limitations on work than they used to in terms of content and format, a lot of stuff has a bit of a pre-packaged feel, you see almost no experimentation with format now. On the upside though quality is a lot higher and comic sites will reliably work a lot better than they used to. Styles have changed over the generations: In the old days most comics were fully drawn and scanned. Tablets were rare and very expensive and so were graphics programs. If you saw a fully digital comic back then you knew the artist was either a pro or they were at university with access to high level equipment - or it was dodgy work done with a mouse and Windows Paint. Those tools have become far more accessible now and the barriers have come right down. Most work is digital. What generation are you? This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to DreamcomicbookDOTcom! Journey into a claustrophobically narrow electronic service tunnel, filled with high voltage wires humming with unimaginable power and mysterious cables running off endlessly into the dim, dark shadows in the distance. The creepy patterings and low hum of this music will take you there!

Episode 370 - deadlines Vs taking time and the good the bad and grey

Apr 16, 2018

3 likes, 2 comments

In today's Quackcast we talk about a couple of subjects: Doing things at the last minute VS doing them slowly, over time. Sometimes you get that wonderful last minute energy caused by a deadline, your work can be inspired, or at least fresh and full of vibrancy. Other times it's rough and unfinished looking, amateurish. Work done over a long time can be honed to a diamond edge, exquisitely put together like a Faberge egg, a work of art! Other times it can be like a warmed over mess, redone and redone till any spark of originality and freshness is washed out of the grey goop you're left with. We chat about Tantz's Saturday newspost subject of Black and White Vs Grey: bad guys can be totally bad without humanising them and good guys can be totally good, without stain or tarnish and yet both can be interesting and the story can be great. Grey isn't always better. This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Empress Mother Earths Handmaiden: A dark, intense foreboding and forbidding intro leads you deep into a beautiful rose coloured cave of glowing wonder and joy. We finish up with a lovely lilt on a harp!


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