Author Topic: Product placement in comics  (Read 10752 times)

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RAB

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Product placement in comics
« on: April 18, 2006, 11:14:08 AM »
The Wall Street Journal has an article about the trend of paid product placement in comic books:

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB114532350031828284-2nRn41Kln8fZjCEf0UgX0UlPqy4_20060425.html?mod=blogs

Does it make a lot of sense for corporate advertisers to move into comics now...when the audience for periodical comics is in decline?  If the market is moving towards trade paperbacks and graphic novels which don't carry ad pages, one can see the logic of advertisers wanting to get their content into the story pages instead.  But in the best case scenario, those stealth ads and product placements will stay on the shelves for years; do these companies really wants years- or decades-old products still being advertised? I suppose the answer is the same as with outdated product placement in movies and tv shows on DVD: the corporations don't really care if their advertising detritus hangs around for the rest of time.

And what about the money? It won't go towards offsetting production costs or lowering the cover prices of new comics. Does any of it make its way into the pockets of the writers and artists? If so, are they getting the same amount that a professional copywriter or illustrator would get at an ad agency for doing the same work, or is this a way for an advertiser to save some moolah?

I just did a blog post about this at:

http://estoreal.blogspot.com/2006/04/up-against-wsj.html

...hey, look, I just did my own cross-promotional product placement!  But I guarantee this was a free plug: at no time did I give myself any money to write that.

Al Nickerson

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Product placement in comics
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2006, 11:26:53 AM »
Advertisements have been (as long as Iíve been reading comics) a long tradition in comics. However, I was flipping through a Marvel comic a few months ago, I counted the pages, and figured out that a third of that comic was devoted to advertisements. And the comic had a two page spread for a car advertisement on the second and third (I think) page.

Comics are really expensive now-days. Most books are almost three bucks a pop. Do publishers really need all those advertisements to cover costs for their books? Are they being greedy or is the market so small, that publishers have to come up with some way to generate some revenue?

RAB

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Product placement in comics
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2006, 02:45:20 PM »
Here's a fun site:  

http://comicbookads.leafpublishing.com/

The oldest comic books I've ever read dated back to 1938...and yeah, they were already full of ads.

I've always heard the explanation -- and I don't know if this is accurate or merely the four-color equivalent of an urban myth -- that comic book advertising was never a significant revenue stream and never helped defray printing costs, but that it was merely a less expensive way to fill a preordained number of pages than paying their writers and artists to produce the same number of pages.  Even if they lost money on cheap ad space, it was still less money than they'd lose paying creative talent for work that wouldn't add to the sales of the book.  Or so the logic goes.  I don't want to be guilty of simply perpetuating a myth, so I hope someone here can correct me if this isn't the case?

But on this product placement thing...if a comic which happens to have a Nike swoosh on a character's t-shirt or features a specific model of Pontiac turns out to be the next Watchmen -- unlikely, I know, but let's say -- that ad is going to keep selling for years and years to come in the trade collection.  Will the advertiser cough up royalties?  Will creators see any?  I doubt it on both counts...

Al Nickerson

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Product placement in comics
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2006, 03:52:01 PM »
Quote from: "RAB"
But on this product placement thing...if a comic which happens to have a Nike swoosh on a character's t-shirt or features a specific model of Pontiac turns out to be the next Watchmen -- unlikely, I know, but let's say -- that ad is going to keep selling for years and years to come in the trade collection.  Will the advertiser cough up royalties?  Will creators see any?  I doubt it on both counts...


I seriously doubt any creator or freelancer will see any extra money from this. The whole idea of product placement is appalling. Itís also a potentially corrupting influence.

Bob

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Product placement in comics
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2006, 04:12:19 PM »
It all seems a bit cheap to me, but then so does most of what DC and Marvel publish.  I also found the notion that men in their 20s are a hard-to-reach but are going to buy a car based on a comic book kind of ridiculous.  Someone is deluded.

I wonder, if an artist at Marvel is asked to put in the Nike logo and doesn't want to, how does Marvel handle it?  Insist on it?  Add it in-house?  Follow the artist's wish?

HeathLail

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Product placement in comics
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2006, 04:40:40 PM »
Its really gotten sad at Marvel and DC. I agree Al, most Marvel books are made up of 1/3 ads, so the story gets cut down to around 18 pages. No wonder Geoff Johns can write 6 books month. I remember when I started collecting 15+ years ago, ads were rather rare, at least by today's standards, and they were much less intrusive as well. I can't see where the companies need all that ad space to keep books at their "low" rates of 3 bucks a book. What I really hate is that the double-sized issues that Marvel does these days are merely 37 pages of art, rather than the great 48-pagers of years gone by. The other 11 pages where art used to live are taken up by product placements for products that I'll most likely never buy.

I've mainly started buying back issues to fill in collections that are gapped up, and cut my new monthlies down to 5 books or so, some months are less. Companies should see that more adverts are not what is needed in the industry--a return to quality product, by two/three (depending upon necessity of a separate inker)creators month-in and month-out would bring many old-time readers back although many of the buyers from the boom of the 90s were simply speculators, who will never buy again, regardless of story quality.

Product placement is not the answer.

-HPL

RAB

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Product placement in comics
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2006, 12:26:36 PM »
Quote from: "Bob"
I wonder, if an artist at Marvel is asked to put in the Nike logo and doesn't want to, how does Marvel handle it?  Insist on it?  Add it in-house?  Follow the artist's wish?


I'm sure non-compliance would be addressed with the artist in question losing that assignment, being labelled as "difficult," a "troublemaker," and a "prima donna," and not getting any more work from Marvel in the future.

dmglampers

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Product placement in comics
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2006, 05:27:11 PM »
Nike-man and Adidas-boy

Good god no - get me outa here!!! (run screaming)
n't do it with an axe.  Get a chain saw.