Damnit Jim I’m a Comedian not a Content Marketer

So a little bit different of a post here, I wanted to talk about a passion of mine, advertising. Full Disclosure I’m actually in school studying Digital Marketing so this is somewhat of an venting session for me. It seems like the more I learn about the new age of marketing the more disillusioned I’m becoming with the whole idea of it. To put it simple, the Internet used to feel like a digital wild west and now it’s starting to feel like a digital version of Times Square. This blog was set up as a virtual journal for me and hopefully something to entertain a few of you and weaving my way through the rules of fair use can be a pretty daunting task.

I use a lot of images and videos in this blog and I guess one of the things I’ve always been semi-worried about is that Fox is going to show up at my door and break all my stuff because I’m using their content. Speaking of which I think there’s a Simpsons scene about that…

I think with almost anything I post there’s always a danger of copyright infringement, it’s sort of the looming threat on anything Pop-Culture related. The biggest way I can deal with this issue is either A) Stop posting videos and pictures or B) Do my best to make sure the proper credit is given to the creators. I’d love to do the latter however, take the above clip as an example. It’s almost impossible to find that single clip from any sort of Fox authority on YouTube. Does that excuse plagiarism? No but I think it’s an example that media companies are STILL struggling with this even in 2017. There’s so worried about proper credit that they’re missing out on a great opportunity.

If you’re Fox do you want your entire episode up on YouTube? They would argue no, but I would argue yes. If there was a video database of small Simpsons clips like this that was maintained by Fox I would almost exclusively use that. Instead however I and users like me are forced to link to other less-ethical accounts who have done the majority of the grunt work such as cutting the clip. If you’re Fox you could even use that Channel to link to possible DVD or full episode Digital Purchases. I guess my point is that I think companies need to understand what people might be using their content for and rather than get hung up on keeping the rights you should try to become the supplier of that content in a convenient way to the user, so that they’re forced to come to you.  To be fair to Fox they do have a channel “The Best of The Simpsons” but there’s simply too many recent clips. We’re talking about the longest running show in history here, maybe divide it up guys?

Something else I’ve noticed on YouTube and other Social Media channels is the increase in Advertorials and Sponsored content. I’m going to look at an example of how to do it well because I think so many companies do it poorly and it looks like the company or influencer “sold out.” I’m going to look at the Online Web Comic Penny Arcade who is definitely an influencer in the industry. Typically the two writers create their own content but as their website states, “Occasionally game companies will come to us and ask for something more than just standard ads.
They tend to end up being comic book style projects of varying length.”

These comics are hosted on a separate tab away from their typical comics so as to not confuse the reader. Penny Arcade is known for its crass, and sometimes offensive humour so having them create a comic for a company can be a very tricky balancing act. They have to produce content that doesn’t feel like an ad and feels like an extension of what they’re already doing. Sometimes there’s no humour at all and it simply is a short comic extending the game’s content. I would argue however that their most successful sponsored comics are the ones where the humour is largely the same. Below is an ad they made for the Montreal based studio Ubisoft who created a Spy-Thriller game “Splinter-Cell.”

Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Spy Manual Page 1

Figure 1: Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Spy Manual Page 1 from Penny Arcade Presents

The joke is that in the game you can “revive” a fallen comrade using a syringe. The developers of the game meant this as more of an adrenaline shot but Penny Arcade decided to take it a different route. The comic borders on “crossing the line” but that’s precisely the audience Penny Arcade targets and by extension the audience Ubisoft wanted to reach. In order to get their content and brand out to an industry leader like Penny Arcade they had to be comfortable with giving up some control over the message. Obviously this can be a delicate balancing act as you can’t give up total control but it all stems from understand the audience your influencer already has.

I guess all of this comes down to what I think content on the internet needs to look like. I actually think companies have become too focused on copyright law and are focused more with taking things down than putting content up. I think the more you allow influencers and users to access/change and in many ways promote your content the better it is in the long run. Even if in some cases that content is not what you originally intended. A lot of Video Game companies are taking advantage of this by posting tweets showing glitches their uses have found. I think in most cases trying to have people take their content down due to copyright infringement makes the company look petty and can cause a PR headache. There’s a pretty vibrant debate online right now about a letter the Lawyer for Netflix sent to a Stranger Things themed bar. I don’t know how I feel about it yet but it does feel a bit like having your cake and eating it too, “Hey look how fun we are but stop emulating us unless you pay us.” It’s definitely a trend I think we’ll start to see more of.

Like I mentioned before I’m studying Digital Media Marketing so this post is probably only the first of many as I start to parse out how I feel about stuff like this. I’ll try to keep it relatively light-hearted and I promise you can all use my hilarious jokes for anything you make…for now.

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