Marketing to women: three case studies

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Although unconnected, three recent stories we read all point to how various companies approach marketing to the female consumer in different ways:

This morning Vulture is reporting that Sony is anxious over how poorly THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO movie is tracking with female moviegoers — although the books’ readership is mostly female:

While a Vintage spokesman, Russell Perreault, said that the imprint could not furnish Vulture with demographic data about what percent of the Dragon Tattoo readership was female, he did note that on the publishing house’s official Dragon Tattoo Facebook page, 71% of the 469,000 fans were women. He also noted that on Knopf’s official Stieg Larsson Facebook author fan page, some 65 percent of the author’s 291,000 fans of the author were female.


It’s no secret that women read mysteries—they also love playing those mystery video games and watch THE PROFILER. And yet they didn’t want to see a movie whose first teaser image was this? I’m shocked.

rooney mara topless tattoo Marketing to women: three case studies
(Hint: that star was not in the original.) Or as the article puts it:

A third marketing insider put the film’s lack of success with connecting to its female fans this way: “I am surprised by those female [tracking] numbers, but I am not surprised that women don’t want to see an ultra-violent David Fincher movie about women being tortured and raped. I think women see these trailers and are being scared shitless away from it.”


Although we here at Stately Beat Manor love David Fincher — how awesome was that Karen O Immigrant Song trailer which actually opens the movie? — are you really surprised that the guy who helped remove women from the Facebook story might not have making a project woman-friendly as one of his top 10 objectives? Or that making a movie about a tough heroine who lives life by her own rules despite being treated as a sex object by people around her and then depicting her as a sex object in just about every promo for the movie might send a conflicting message? Shock.

Looking at the DRAGON TATTOO advertising, I doubt anyone at Sony ever really thought about marketing their movie to women, considering that demographic a given.

For the opposite side of Sweden, here’s the story of how Ikea actually got its sales in the US to rise last year. It wasn’t easy since they didn’t open any more stores in the US. The challenge: to get consumer to buy more big-ticket items and fewer $2 Bygels. Thus Ikea’s agencies used extensive psychological testing to find that women (primary buyers of furniture and accessories) thought of Ikea furniture as something to outgrow. Media agency MEC and ad agency Ogilvy & Mather developed a campaign that showed Ikea rooms as environments where things happened and people hung out harmoniously to suggest that buying more Ikea furniture would make your family get along better.

“TV ads showcased IKEA’s range of styles and demonstrated how, with a bit of negotiation, the perfect room can come together in harmony between two people. Print focused on one key style and showed people interacting with each other within that room, giving people the chance to imagine their own family life there. Online display ads highlighted big ticket items, like sofas, while rich media and video units let the user engage to open up a full page living room ‘showroom’ where they could browse products, download a brochure and find their nearest store.”

“MEC deployed editorial integrations that allowed audiences to see IKEA’s stylish and quality products in situations, such as building IKEA furniture into the storyline of HGTV’s hit show Dear Genevieve. TV and magazine editorial integrations lent credibility through association with home and kitchen professionals and celebrities.”


201112141131 Marketing to women: three case studies
The result? Sales rose 7.4% (the target was 5% and the industry average was barely 1%); living room sales grew 9%, kitchens 12%.

We find this story notable for several reasons. #1 is fucking creepy how the top agencies use our own psychology to buy more shit. #2 so this is why Ikea catalogs increasingly show DIOKs hanging out in their cluttered yet spotless living rooms? #3 is that why almost everything at Beat HQ (including the desk this is being typed on) is from Ikea? Sigh.

Our third test case involves something NOT done, and yes it’s DC comics again. Our old pal Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass looks at promo for the New 52 and points out that despite some talk about marketing books like SUPERGIRL to the “Twilight” demo, not one DC preview has been given to a female-targeted blog, not even a nerd one like The Mary Sue.

Here’s some telling information, when DC was parsing out the exclusives for their new 52, a task that falls under the less expensive budget of PR rather than advertising, did they offer up previews to any female focused media outlets? They obviously had a segmented strategy offering exclusive previews to publications Maxim, Ebony and Out magazine but they skipped the female demographic. But did they target the many sites that women clearly frequent? Did they target the many sites that female geeks/comic readers frequent? No, they didn’t. Even with them explicitly stating in their publicity for “Supergirl” they wanted to focus on the female YA audience that is consuming “Hunger Games” they still chose to give that story to USA Today. It baffling to me when Oprah.com, one of the broadest female-focused outlets, proactively reaches out to my site which is focused on girls and comics (Girls Love Superheroes) to feature content and yet DC didn’t pitch Batgirl, Supergirl, Batwoman or Birds of Prey to a site like Jezebel, Marie Clare or to a site catering to the female geek like the Mary Sue or Geek Mom (which writes about comics all the time and yet their male counterpart Geek Dad was given two previews by DC).

201112141147 Marketing to women: three case studies

As long as we’re picking on the DC Woman Problem again, here’s a piece we long ago bookmarked, Sonia Harris’s look at DC heroines entitled “Ms. New 52 and Her Powerful PMS”:

DC’s solo, female superhero titles depict women who are firmly focused on emotions, family, home, and sex. These women are so distracted by these things, that they’re barely able to think about their jobs as superheroes. It is disappointing to read so many women characters depicted this way, consistently unprofessional and erratic, and it is hard to imagine a male character ever worrying about any of these things to this level.


To be fair, a lot of DC male heroes are blithering idiots, also. In fact, of the DC books we read, it seems to be a common characteristic for the heroes to faff about and get all pissy about everything—everyone has PMS in the DCU.

Is there a net takeaway from these three stories? Sort of, but it’s so obvious it barely needs repeating: If you want people to give you their money, you need to figure out what they like first. That’s job #1 for marketing.

Comments

  1. DJ Hyjak says:

    Ebony is a magazine targeted towards women, altho black women they are still women.

  2. hcduvall says:

    I’ve always been slightly confused why Larsson’s series was that popular to begin with. Ignoring for the moment the criticism’s of Fincher re: The Social Network, I think a lot of concerns are in the original work itself.

    If it’s not a mistake inclusion in the list, the fact that Ebony isn’t immediately recognizable as a magazine for women is the beginning of a different discussion about blind spots.

  3. Chris Hero says:

    I honestly thought that Dragon tattoo poster was for women. Then I got confused by the trailers because they seem so hostile towards women. Plus, the hook seems to be, “You know that book you liked? Here’s the movie….”

    I dunno…it seems like a pointless movie. The original movie was perfectly made and Noomi Rapace was incredible. But the story isn’t good enough for me to want to go through it a third time. Plus, I’m just sick to death of Salander and all the other characters.

  4. Will Naslund says:

    A couple of quick thoughts:

    -Media and furniture are two wildly different things, so different that comparing marketing stratagems isn’t even comparing apples and oranges — it’s more like comparing tablet PCs and oranges.

    -If I was a creator and/or publisher that felt I had a comic women would enjoy — the blogs mentioned would be the absolute last place I’d send press kits or review copies. Their coverage of comics tends towards the relentlessly negative. Most of them ripped all the DCNu female-led titles to shreds (with the exception of Batwoman and the Huntress LS. Even the supposed darlings the fangirl blogosphere (like Gail Simone) are regularly savaged by their supposed devotees for the crime of not being perfect *enough*. Until those folks can transcend their toxic ‘the perfect is the enemy of the good’ mindset, giving them review copies would be the equivalent of the Occupy Wall Street crowd sending media kits to Fox News — just chum for a coterie of impossible to please sharks.

    -Though I tend to disagree with much of the criticism Kelly Thompson, Sue @ DCWKA, and others have leveled at mainstream comics as of late — nearly all of them have made a least a few points worthy of serious consideration. The Sonia Harris piece linked above is the exception — it’s so fundamentally ignorant and wrongheaded it was actually painful to read. Relationship and family conflicts should be done away with in female-led titles? Male characters don’t have those conflicts as well? You can play ‘spot the daddy issues’ in 90% of the superhero comics published today, gender notwithstanding — and Aunt May, Ma and Pa Kent (along with Lois Lane’s new DCNu boyfriend), Barry Allen’s mother and girlfriend, and countless others are central in most male heroes’ narratives. Harris may think she’s arguing for some nebulous feminist goal, but what she’s actually arguing for is the replacement of character driven stories with dry, one dimensional, Law & Order style procedurals. Which would suck, regardless of whether the title characters had male or female genitalia.

  5. All I can say is that movie poster was successfully marketed to me.

  6. Torsten Adair says:

    I’m a guy, and the Dragon Tattoo trailer scared me away. Even after I figured out it was connected to the book, I still don’t want to see it.


    “…it is hard to imagine a male character ever worrying about any of these things to this level.”

    Spider-Man used to, before he got married. His title was a male soap opera, what with the rent, Aunt May’s health, the various girlfriends, Empire State, his boss, the Great Guilt…


    Marketing isn’t so much selling what people like, but what people WANT. Ikea shows that buying the furniture can lead to a happy home. Make the customer want an intangible desire, then sell the idea that consuming a product will help the customer attain that desire.

    “Like” is difficult. A child doesn’t know he or she will like chocolate ice cream or tuna fish casserole until the first taste. It takes some coercion, recommendations, or guarantees. Good marketing helps people decide for themselves that they want something. That’s platinum. Golden is word-of-mouth from a trusted source. (Which is why movie studios give free tickets to hairdressers.)


    Wow. Maxim has run previews for:
    * Animal Man #2
    * Wonder Woman #2 (No, really. Here:
    http://www.maxim.com/amg/STUFF/Dirty+Briefs+Blog/Comics+Exclusive:+A+Preview+Of+Wonder+Woman+No.2+From+DC
    Hey, DC, do you really want Maxim writing about Wonder Woman?)
    * Flash #2
    * Batman & Robin #2
    * Batman: The Dark Knight #3
    * Green Lantern #3
    * Action Comics #4
    * DC Universe Presents #3
    * Demon Knights #4
    * O.M.A.C. #3

    (Geoff Johns and Jim Lee even stopped by the Maxim offices during the Midnight Madness.)

    Now, I’m not critical of Maxim running comics previews (even if it does remind me of Wizard Magazine). But…

    52 titles * 4 issues per title so far = 208 possible previews. How many have been offered to female friendly sites?

  7. I have to admit that the Sonia Harris piece struck me as unpersuasive, not least because it underestimates the extent to which soap opera plots predominate across the whole genre. I haven’t been reading Wonder Woman, but if it’s been focussing on her relationship with her mother, how does that differentiate it from Hercules or Thor, both of which have done “male mythological hero has trouble with daddy” in the last six months? Is Batwoman really any more emotionally unstable than Wolverine? I don’t see it.

  8. James Smith says:

    “If it’s not a mistake inclusion in the list, the fact that Ebony isn’t immediately recognizable as a magazine for women is the beginning of a different discussion about blind spots.”

    Plus-motherfucking-one.

  9. Chris Hero says:

    Guys, I’m a card carrying member of the ACLU, NAACP, and the NSBE, but seriously, you can’t blame Heidi for not knowing Ebony is marketed towards black women. I mean, magazines hardly have the cultural relevance they once had and it’s not fair for anyone to be held accountable to knowing the market for a magazine not meant for their demographic.

    Anyway, all this discussion of the soap opera format of comics…isn’t that the appeal to superhero comics? They’re male soap operas with explosions. The same can be said for wrestling…everyone’s always pissed off at everyone else for some slight and it comes to fisticuffs. Hell, Walking Dead is just a soap opera with zombies.

    Or, let me ask this…where would the appeal be to a superhero story about someone who treats being a superhero as an 8-5 job with no emotional attachment to it other than getting a paycheck?

  10. hcduvall says:

    Not that it’s remotely a new magazine or anything, but the Ebony mention in discussion is from the DC Women Kicking Ass site. Arguably it should have been mentioned here, but if the point of said post is about marketing and demographics, then yeah, knowing the demo of one the examples being used to make the point (about ignored audience members) is entirely relevant and to be expected, particularly when it directly counters the point trying to be made.

  11. The Beat says:

    That was Sue’s comment about Ebony. BTW I don’t really look at newsstands any more, but last time I looked Ebony was more general interest, like Vanity Fair. So I would have made the same mistake.

    I’m also alarmed that most of the commentary here is about one little slip up and not about the creepy way Ogilvy Mather is making us buy more Expedits!

  12. Synsidar says:

    Anyway, all this discussion of the soap opera format of comics…isn’t that the appeal to superhero comics? They’re male soap operas with explosions.

    That’s overly simplistic. A story’s artwork can appeal to both sexes, but the appeal of the artwork is separate from the abstract content of the story. Compare the content of the stories to genre fiction stories, whether they’re romances, horror, mysteries, SF, war — the superhero stories resemble soap operas only because they’re unending serials. Standalone comics-format genre fiction stories are more like their prose counterparts. One of the ironies in the decompression trend has been that with slower pacing, more dialogue, more talking heads, the original major justification for doing superhero stories as comics — the action scenes — has been weakened.

    If one argues that genre fiction stories can be done as well in the comics format as in prose, then the issues are how to recruit talented writers and how the comics format benefits them. Selling the stories is a matter of pricing and marketing.

    SRS

  13. Synsidar says:

    . . . Ebony was more general interest, like Vanity Fair.So I would have made the same mistake.

    Ebony is a general-interest magazine. The female/male split in the readership is 62 percent/38 percent.

    SRS

  14. as long as you consider to talk about things being FOR women or FOR men then you’re really proving marketers points for them.

    Girl With Dragon Tattoo is for a pretty specific niche audience: people with 12 dollars.

    and in a world of posters that are all the same, its nice that the graphic design team that worked on this film was able to do something artistic (following with the trailer and the original novels, art seems to be winning out here).

    oh, but they showed a boob. so lets all freak out and say its marketed to men who just want boobs.

    i can pretty much promise you that if they’re going after that audience, the girl upfront on the poster doesn’t even get to be in the film. she’s got a face like a rodent, and that boob isn’t going to break the box office wide open. so lets stop freaking out when we see human bodies, yeah?

    oh, and also? nobody watches “The Profiler”.

  15. hcduvall says:

    @SRS: Ah, I still think it’s a bad example for the piece even with that breakdown, but, I’ll take that on the chin.

    I don’t know enough about Swedish culture to analyze it, but I wonder what the readership gender breakdown of Dragon Tattoo was in it’s original language. It was originally called Men Who Hate Women, and it’s not hard to see why that was changed (even if it might be fitting). As for comics, a lot of attempts to court a wider audience frequently turn out like the Sucker Punch. So even had DC directed marketing wider, how many would they have kept with that Voodoo title?

  16. hcduvall says:

    And I want completely want/need an Expedit right now, but I’m taking that as a sign that I have too much stuff.

  17. James Smith says:

    I grew up with Ebony in the house and always assumed it was aimed at women.

    I honestly think 62% is kind of high with regard to gender outreach (especially given they’re promoting a line of books that seem to have offended every women who’s read them). Reasonable people may disagree.

  18. Torsten Adair says:

    Here’s the Ebony piece:
    http://ebony.com/Templates/DetailsView.aspx?id=19462

    No previews, just a slide show of covers.

  19. Well it’s clear from the above that some companies get it (in maybe a frighteningly manipulative way, but hey that’s advertising) and some don’t. It’s not so much that the ones that don’t (Sony, DC, in these examples) are trying and failing to market to women, it’s that they aren’t trying at all. Or perhaps more accurately, it’s a case of men who don’t understand women being convinced that they know women so well they don’t even second guess that they might not “get it”. Ikea was probably smart enough to use female advertisers and ask actual women what they want, rather than chauvenistically give them what they think they want.

  20. Jeez guys talk about focusing in the tree instead of the forest. My mention of Ebony was to note how DC is pursuing different demographics in its media outreach. I am pretty sure that Ebony, which as several people have noted is a general interest pub, was viewed by DC as a publication focused on African-American readers especially as the title of the resulting piece is “DC Comics Unveils Black Superheroes” and discusses Cyborg and Batwing.

  21. Chris Hero says:

    While I feel The Beat has occassionally gone into “Won’t someone think of the women?” hyperbole, I think this is a pretty clear cut case of not being that. (And really, who could fault any woman being a tad hypersensitive about treatment of women in comics? This continues to be a bit of a boys’ club.)

    Anyway, I’ve known for years about advertisers using psychology because I used to hang out with a woman who was a psychologist and worked in marketing. She told me advertising went like this…men respond to images of what they want, women respond to images of what they want to be. So, that’s why magazines directed to women have photos of beautiful women on the cover while magazines directed to men have photos of beautiful women with less clothes.

    A fun game is to look at advertising and ask what is the message as opposed to what’s the product. It’s kinda trippy.

  22. I think the movie poster may fail to win female audiences because it makes Daniel Craig look hungover.

  23. Ebony is definately a magazine for ladies. That’s the target demographic. Black ladies. Like my mom. Who reads Ebony.

    If we’re talking about demographics, it’s not a tree/forest situation. Just concede the point.

  24. Synsidar says:

    Ebony is definately a magazine for ladies. That’s the target demographic.

    The fact that women read more than men do affects the interpretation of statistics. The readership of People, for example, is 70 percent female, but it’s a general-interest magazine because of the content and because a large number of men read it. Ebony is a general-interest magazine for the same reasons.

    Of course, if women read more than men do, the comics publishers should be doing more to market to them. The potential for gaining new readers is higher.

    SRS

  25. The Beat says:

    So after reading all these comments, the takeaway from this is that it’s very clear the real problem here is Sue, who wrote one inaccurate word in a 500 word expose. Well, we are humbled and put in our place once more. Go forth and sin no more, Sue.

  26. Will Naslund says:

    “So after reading the takeaway from this, [it's very] clear the real problem here is Sue, who wrote one inaccurate words in a 500 word expose. Well, we are humbled and put in our place once more. Go forth and sin no more, Sue.”

    As someone who didn’t take Sue to task for the Ebony thing (I thought it was a general interest mag myself), that seems like something of an overreaction. It isn’t like the posters upthread have been heaping vituperation on her (or you for that matter), they’re just correcting an error of fact — one that undermines the point that Sue sought to make.

    Further, labeling the DCWKA piece as an ‘expose’ seems more than a little silly. It’s an op-ed piece that advanced a argument about women and marketing in the DCnU, not the Pentagon Papers.

  27. The Beat says:

    The single mention of Ebony does not in any way “undermine” Sue’s piece, Will — if anything the pact that it was not actually a preview but rather a more general “hey there are black characters in comics! who knew!” tone makes it less suitable for listing in the piece.

    The actual pece – http://ebony.com/Templates/DetailsView.aspx?id=19462 — makes no mention whatsoever of woman or women in comics. It is definitely targeted at getting AfAm readers more aware of the relaunch.

    If you can tell me how mentioning how targeting minority readers — a fine example of outreach by the way — somehow disproves the inefficiency of reaching female readers by targetting Maxim, I’m all ears.

    BTW, I’m more fascinated by how all of this research is done and whether it pays off than calling anyone right or wrong. The first two examples are fascinating cases of how consumers react to different psychological cues. The last example is not the same kind of things, but shows that there is actually a wide area for DC to learn more.

    How about it, DC Comics? A preview on THE MARY SUE? It could be done, I’m sure. Or even… a preview on THE BEAT! I double dog dare ya!

  28. Will Naslund says:

    “The single mention of Ebony does not in any way “undermine” Sue’s piece, Will — if anything the pact that it was not actually a preview but rather a more general “hey there are black characters in comics! who knew!” tone makes it less suitable for listing in the piece.”

    Shorter Sue @ DCWKA: “The DCnU was not previewed in magazines or websites aimed at women — and that’s bad!”

    Shorter Beat commenters: “Er…Ebony is a women’s magazine, your argument is (at least partially) invalid.”

    How does the second point *not* undermine the first? The degree to which it undermines Sue’s op-ed is arguable, I suppose — but it can’t help but do so to some degree.

    As for running previews in Maxim, are you arguing that one cannot market the DCNu to men and women simultaneously? Or that targeting *only* women’s media would have been a sound commercial strategy?

    FWIW, I think offering The Beat a preview of a DCnU title might be an idea with some merit, but the likes of The Mary Sue and (especially) Jezebel are known for coverage that skews decidedly toward the negative. As somebody who has worked in editorial and tried to shepherd projects to success, do you *really* think DC should grant advance access to media outlets who consistently rake them over the coals?

  29. Shorter Will Naslund: One mention of a piece aimed at minority readers in a 60% woman oriented media outlet is the equivalent of dozens of other mentions in male oriented or general interest media outlets and remove the need to do any marketing whatsoever to female-oriented geek sites.

    Okay, I got it.

  30. Synsidar says:

    As someone who didn’t take Sue to task for the Ebony thing (I thought it was a general interest mag myself), that seems like something of an overreaction.

    Thinking that Ebony is a women’s magazine because of the readership demographics is incorrect. The content determines its classification, not readership percentages. If more women than men choose to read general-interest magazines, that suggests that they have wider ranges of reading interests, not that the magazines are classified wrongly.

    The Harry Potter novels, Star Wars fandom, and Star Trek fandom all appeal to both men and women; if it turned out that more females than males read the H.P. novels — demographics seem to be unavailable — would you say that Harry Potter is for girls?

    Promoting DC comics with female leads through Jezebel, The Mary Sue, etc. would reach women who want entertaining comics. The readers distinguish between editorial commentary and entertainment.

    SRS

  31. hcduvall says:

    I conceded the point not because I didn’t disagree, but because yeah, it felt like the conversation was derailed, resisting that ol’ internet feeling, but a 60/40 split is a landslide in some metrics, and I bet DC thinks of it’s comics as general interest, but people obviously decide otherwise, no? Whatever, sorry, derailing myself.

    No one’s argued that one general interest mag means the omission of more female oriented venues is okay. Honestly, I agree with the wider points about about the marketing, sorry about not filling the air with praise first, but talking about the clearly debatable placement of Ebony is a critique to make the argument sharper. Marketing isn’t a zero/sum game and neither should have been this discussion.

  32. Will Naslund says:

    “Shorter Will Naslund: One mention of a piece aimed at minority readers in a 60% woman oriented media outlet is the equivalent of dozens of other mentions in male oriented or general interest media outlets and remove the need to do any marketing whatsoever to female-oriented geek sites.”

    Dude, not even Sue was arguing that DC should do an *equivalent* amount of marketing to men and women for the New 52 — is that really the rhetorical ground you want to stake out?

    Sue asserted that they didn’t do *any* marketing to women, and inclusion of Ebony rendered that assertion inaccurate. It’s just that simple.

    As to my personal opinion on the issue, I think DC should have reached out to some of the more moderate fangirl websites, Sequential Tart or maybe Geek Mom, or perhaps a columnist with some sense of nuance like Kelly Thompson. But not The Mary Sue or Jezebel — those are little more than rantblogs. Letting them run a sneak peak would just give them a head start on their hateration.

    “Okay, I got it.”

    Sadly, no.

  33. @Will Naslund. No it’s not that simple. Ebony is NOT a female focused publication. The publication was created as the African-American counterpart of Life magazine, in other words a general interest publication like Life or today’s People. Perhaps you are confusing it with Essence magazine? Because that is a female-focused book targeted to African-American women.But that’s not the publication I mentioned.

  34. Also, The Mary Sue is a rant site? As in these recent stories?

    Kermit The Frog Sings (& Rhymes) With Bret McKenzie

    Things We Saw Today: League of Extraordinary British Characters

    And Now Some Real Posters and Pics From Prometheus, Amazing Spider-Man, and John Carter

    6 Movie Posters That Think Outside-The-Box

    Hobbit Characters As Cartoons Are Delightfully Rankin-Bass-Like

    …all from the last two days. By your own logic, your entire point about The Mary Sue being negative is wrong.

    The Mary Sue is actually a mostly positive site about nerdy things that women happen to like written from a FAN perspective — kinda like this site, I guess. And if by being ranty you mean discussing gender issues with a close-up view point, well, oh yeah I guess they are strident, too.

  35. “…it seems to be a common characteristic for the heroes to faff about and get all pissy about everything—everyone has PMS in the DCU.”

    Don’t you remember what Karen Berger once said long, long ago? “Nobody masturbates in the DCU.”

    That explains a lot.

  36. But it’s marketed to women. It doesn’t matter if men also buy it, even in significant numbers if we’re talking about what products (such as magazines) are marketed as.

  37. @darryl Ayo Ebony is NOT marketed as a women’s book. The book is positioned as a general interest book in its media kits and its brand positioning doesn’t call out women. I cannot believe this discussion has gone on for three friggin days.

  38. Will Naslund says:

    I’ll leave the issue of whether Ebony is targeted to women or not to Darryl and Sue to resolve — the mere fact that there’s disagreement on the issue calls the absolute nature of Sue’s argument into question (that DC didn’t market the DCnU to women *at all*). That’s all that I was trying to argue there, not that they didn’t market enough, or in venues approved by the fangirl/feminist axis.

    However, I can’t quite let this pass unchallenged:

    “By your own logic, your entire point about The Mary Sue being negative is wrong.”

    No my point was that TMS’ coverage skews to the negative/ranty with regard to *DC and Marvel superhero comics*, since that’s what we’re critiquing the marketing of in this discussion.

    Here are some recent superhero-oriented headlines from TMS you must have glossed over in your recent perusal:

    “Frank Cho Responds to Allegations That He Drew A Vagina on Avengers vs. X-Men #0″

    “VP Tom Brevoort Unconcerned About Lack of Headlining Female Characters At Marvel”

    AFAIC, this discussion isn’t about whether it’s appropriate to talk about feminist issues w/r/t superhero comics or policing anybody’s tone. Nobody’s arguing for that anywhere in this thread as far as I can tell. Say what you want, write what you want, it’s a free internet.

    But what I am asking is this: If a blog/website/whatever, however beloved by feminist fangirls, generally covers DC and/or Marvel stuff in a negative, confrontational way, why does it make sense for DC to provide them with previews or other preferential access to their content? Why feed a media outlet that is more than likely to bite your metaphorical hand? How would doing so boost sales? Wouldn’t it be more likely to do the opposite?

    Those are the questions neither Sue or Mme. Beat seem willing to answer. They seem so invested in arguing that TMS, etc. are *entitled* to such preferential treatment that they can’t see past that to what the commercial ramifications of that treatment would likely be.

  39. Joe V. says:

    Although this is going to come off sounding sarcastic, it’s a serious question:

    One of the common refrains about the lack of marketing/content geared toward women when it comes to superhero comics is, “Doesn’t [INSERT PUBLISHER] want my money?” Well, hasn’t it gotten to the point where we know what that answer is: No, they don’t want your money if they actively have to do something to get it.

    The vibe I get from Marvel and DC about female readers is the same I get from movie and TV studios about Tyler Perry. Here’s a guy who has built a highly successful–highly profitable–entertainment empire, and he’s Forbes highest-paid male entertainer, beating out Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Steven Spielberg.

    But Hollywood ignores him because his audience is African-American with very little crossover. That’s just not an audience that–for whatever reason–Hollywood wants to make an effort to attract, and studios are quite comfortable to leave that money on the table.

    I think that same philosophy can be applied to DC and Marvel when it comes female readership. Is there an untapped market there? Yup. Is it worth finding a way to leverage that audience into sales. Apparently not. Which leads me to two other questions:

    * Why aren’t female readers worth MAKING AN EFFORT to pursue (because they’ll say they’re worth having, so long as they drop in their laps)?

    * Is it an exercise in futility to think they’re going to change? Especially if readers–myself included–harp on this problem but continue to support the publishers financially?

  40. Joe V.: a very smart post.

  41. Chris Hero says:

    I’ve been reading this comment section for days and I’m honestly amazed this Ebony thing is such a strong point. Who cares what sort of magazine Ebony is? Even if it’s a magazine written for women, does trying to reach women through one magazine show an actual, dedicated effort to appealing to women? No, not at all.

    Joe V *really* nailed it. Marvel and DC decided a long time ago they were going to double down on the existing market, mostly white men 30+, and try to get them to buy more books at higher prices.

    But it’s not their fault…as an industry, comics is failing. Love and Rockets is a book with a wide appeal, but how many people even know it exists? Don’t like Love and Rockets as an example? Plug in any book with a wide appeal and how many non 30+ white men know it exists? There are about 5-10 books everyone names then no more.

  42. Will Naslund says:

    There’s probably a way for DC appeal to women, but I’d argue that it’s through creating content targeted at female readers, not trying to market their existing content.

    DC’s Minx imprint seemed to have failed b/c the OGNs created under that imprint looked like warmed-over recapitulations of stuff that the YA novel had already carved out established niches for.

    But I think a small Johnny DC-sized imprint (Jenny DC?) with 2-4 female-friendly genre titles (mainly superheroes, but perhaps sci-fi, mystery, high fantasy as well — possibly with shojo-style art to give it a distinct ‘brand identity’ from the DCU) could probably work quite well if it was curated and marketed in a thoughtful way — and could run gateway drug-style house ads, previews, etc. for DCU titles with crossover appeal like Batwoman.

  43. Will Naslund says:

    “…that the YA novel had already carved out established niches for.”

    Hit ‘post’ too soon. This should read “…that the YA novel *and manga markets* had already carved out established niches for.”

  44. @will naslund “the mere fact that there’s disagreement on the issue calls the absolute nature of Sue’s argument into question (that DC didn’t market the DCnU to women *at all*). ”
    That is a faulty argument. This is a case of opinion vs. FACTS. Fact 1) Ebony does not brand itself as a “female focused publication” Fact 2) the article appeared on Ebony.com which, despite the nitpicking about the demographics of the print version of Ebony, has almost a 50/50 split on male and female readers and like its print counterpart does not brand itself as a “female focused publication. Fact 3) the content that was provided to Ebony was focused on Black MALE superheroes with both Cyborg and Batwing in the story.

    Someone can certainly have an opinion about the story in Ebony being an example of DC marketing to female focused publications but the facts don’t support it.

    Secondly regarding your point about providing content to blogs that “bite the hand that feeds them” flies in the fact of the most basic rules of media and blogger relations. Rather than ignoring these sites, the big two should be trying to engage them. The sites are clearly getting traction with their focus on comics,which is overwhelming positive, means there is already an audience of potential customers. By your reasoning the big two should shut down Comics Alliances or IGN or Newsarama when they write stories critical of Marvel or DC. And they don’t.

    @joe v Good questions.I had hoped I would see change when Marvel was bought by Disney, someone who understands the financial rewards of targeting women. And I had hoped it would change when Diane Nelson, who squeezed every last drop of revenue out of Harry Potter for Warners by pursuing male and female audiences.

  45. >> The vibe I get from Marvel and DC about female readers is the same I get from movie and TV studios about Tyler Perry. Here’s a guy who has built a highly successful–highly profitable–entertainment empire, and he’s Forbes highest-paid male entertainer, beating out Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Steven Spielberg. But Hollywood ignores him because his audience is African-American with very little crossover.>>

    Does Hollywood really ignore Tyler Perry, or does he simply have a terrific deal with Lionsgate, and doesn’t need to shop around from project to project?

    Aside from the work he does through Lionsgate and TBS (which seem to take up quite a bit of his time, given how many projects he writes and directs), he seems to be able to fill his spare time profitably.

    I wouldn’t argue with your point overall, but I think Perry is a studio unto himself, making inexpensive movies that don’t do blockbuster business but make a terrific return on investment, and if he ever felt the need to leave Lionsgate, he wouldn’t lack for suitors.

    I’d say the problem isn’t that Hollywood ignores Perry — he’s a proven moneymaker — it’s that they don’t more often look at what Perry does and think, “Why can’t we do that too?” and hire someone more available than Perry to go after the same audience with the same kind of budgets.

    [Although they do seem to do that, too, just nowhere near as indefatigably as Perry does.]

    kdb

  46. Joe V. says:

    @Sue: I don’t think your expectations–that Disney and WB will try to better market Marvel and DC character to girls and women–are way off. I just don’t think they’re going to do it with comic books. Instead, I think they’re going to go after the female audience in other media. I think you’re starting to see that with Marvel when it comes to how it’s developing its TV shows. But when it comes to comics, I think the parent company execs subscribe to the “women don’t read comics” theory, and even if they do, the return on investment isn’t worth pursuing.

    @Kurt Busiek: Your last bit about Hollywood not trying to replicate Perry’s success was exactly the point I was trying to make (at least in my head). Except, you know, the way you said it was clear and concise and made sense.

    And you’re right about his lucrative deals. I think I heard on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast that Perry has a deal set up with TBS, where if the first season of one of his shows maintains a certain viewership number, the network is locked in to producing another 92 episodes. That’s an incredible deal if it’s true.

    So one more question (because they’re easier than answers):

    Is there anything inherently wrong with a company saying we’re not making comics that appeal to [INSERT BROAD AUDIENCE DEMOGRAPHIC]? My head says no, but my gut feels really uneasy about that answer. What am I missing?

  47. Will Naslund says:

    “Rather than ignoring these sites, the big two should be trying to engage them.”

    By giving them early access to content so they can savage it ahead of time? I still don’t see the sense in that. For example, say DC had given you a sneak peak at Catwoman #1 or Red Hood & The Outlaws #1, would anything you would’ve said about either book been likely to boost their sales?

    (Heck I don’t even recall that you had much nice to say about Batgirl, Supergirl, or even Wonder Woman. Yes, you liked Batwoman — but what were the odds that TPTB at DC could have figured which 1 of 52 titles you would dig before the fact? Would *you* take those odds?)

    “The sites are clearly getting traction with their focus on comics,which is overwhelming positive…”

    With respect, I think you and I have radically different definitions of what ‘overwhelmingly positive’ means. I’m not a big believer in the maxim that any publicity = good publicity.

    “…means there is already an audience of potential customers.”

    Willingness to read content for free online =/= willingness to pay for content.

    Also, willingness to read a rant savaging a comic =/= willingness to buy that comic. Not unless you’re a masochist.

    “By your reasoning the big two should shut down Comics Alliances or IGN or Newsarama when they write stories critical of Marvel or DC. And they don’t.”

    I’m no fan of CA and their patented brand of wankery, but Newsarama and IGN draw fairly distinct lines between their ‘news’ coverage and their op-ed/review/bloggy stuff. Those bright line distinctions make them a much better venue for marketing initiatives.

  48. @Will Naslund I really encourage you to get your facts straight if you’re going to come after me especially if you are going to go after me with this bullshit:
    (Heck I don’t even recall that you had much nice to say about Batgirl, Supergirl, or even Wonder Woman. Yes, you liked Batwoman — but what were the odds that TPTB at DC could have figured which 1 of 52 titles you would dig before the fact? Would *you* take those odds?)
    1. I don’t read Batgirl so I haven’t said anything about it. If you are referring to my issues with Oracle, then you have a long line of press including those who are regularly getting previews who also had issues.
    2. But your last point is laughable. I’ve promoted the hell out of Batwoman, Supergirl and Wonder Woman with reviews, previews and interviews with Cliff Chiang and J.H. Williams. I’ve also promoted Huntress over and over. Oh and Birds of Prey and JLI Dark. And Supergirl. So get over yourself.

  49. Joe V wrote: Is there anything inherently wrong with a company saying we’re not making comics that appeal to [INSERT BROAD AUDIENCE DEMOGRAPHIC]? My head says no, but my gut feels really uneasy about that answer. What am I missing?

    The thing is…COMICS ARE FOR EVERYONE. That has been proven. OVER AND OVER. Around the world. So the potential audience is huge. IS there anything wrong with TARGETING a demo? No. I’ve long said that of course some video games and comics are for boys or men. But why not also make comics for more demographics?

    The specific problem with American comics is that for the last 40 years the male reading demo has been the loudest voice…and sloppy readers and thinkers think it is the only voice. I refer you once again to my post Women in comics: They’re now, they’re wow — get used to it for the chart topping award winning success women in comics have had over the last 10 years. It’s undeniable.

    It has definitely been proven that there is a female comics reading demographic, and female comics readers who (brace yourself) like DC characters like Wonder Woman and Supergirl. It is entirely likely that these titles cannot survive as female-targeted books. But they could be DUAL marketed. Except…they aren’t. And instead you have Kyrax2 getting booed and shouted down instead of being acknowledged. Axel Alonso and Jeanine Schaefer just did a very interesting interview at Comics Alliance (http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/12/08/marvel-women-comics-editors/) where they acknowledged the problems but also acknowledged the audience. Sometimes it seems like DC doesn’t even want to do that.

    Which brings us to Will again: “I’m no fan of CA and their patented brand of wankery,”

    …now what wankery is that? My problem with your posts is that you pretend to have a reasonable facade but all this axe grinding is going on in the subtext. So by speaking out against the conventional wisdom, you should be cut off from it?

    As for RED HOOD and so on…most people (men and women) have enjoyed BIRDS OF PREY and WONDER WOMAN … why can’t one of THOSE books be marketed on a female friendly blog? Birds of Prey in particularly seems like the perfect entry level book, with some strong, recognizable characters and art that appeals to many demographics.

    The people who move the needle are not the ones who say “it can’t be done.” It’s the ones who say “How can we do this?” DC did a spectacular job marketing the NEW 52 and making it one of the stories of the year. There is still room to grow their audience however, and if I were DC I’d be very excited about that.

  50. “It has definitely been proven that there is a female comics reading demographic, and female comics readers who (brace yourself) like DC characters like Wonder Woman and Supergirl. It is entirely likely that these titles cannot survive as female-targeted books. But they could be DUAL marketed.”

    Have you a specific example of such dual marketing in practice, Heidi? Not doubting that there are such; just can’t think of one right off.

  51. Joe V. says:

    @The Beat: But I don’t think anyone is talking about all comics (I know I wasn’t), just the superhero comics of the Big Two.

    Which comes back to this: When do we as readers just give up on DC and Marvel? Why do we think they’re going to change how they do business? If they want to neglect potential revenue streams by not expanding their readership, then fine. That’s a fundamentally sad and depressing situation, but to use a phrase that I hate with such a hate, it is what it is. All I can do is not buy their books. Or only support the books that I think will make a positive change in the market, be it because of their quality or who they’re targeting.

    I think superhero comic readers become overwhelmed with fan entitlement when it comes to characters that it skews their perspective on much more important issues like creator rights and striving for diverse audiences.

    OK, I’m getting off topic and starting to sound ramble-y. Fundamentally, I think we’re on the same wavelength, Heidi. I guess I get personally frustrated with seeing the Big Two neglecting female audiences because as the DC and Marvel go, so goes the industry. And I think they need to begin developing new readership areas in order to stay alive and vital.

  52. The Beat says:

    Gene Phillips: X-men franchise.

  53. >> Gene Phillips: X-men franchise. >>

    Certainly a franchise that’s dual-successful, and I could name others — G.I. JOE, back in the day, got lots of letters from female fans, and SANDMAN and FABLES are certainly popular with both male and female readers.

    But were they dual-marketed? Was any promotion done on the books specifically aimed at women?

  54. Joe V wrote:

    “Hollywood ignores [Tyler Perry] because his audience is African-American with very little crossover. That’s just not an audience that–for whatever reason–Hollywood wants to make an effort to attract, and studios are quite comfortable to leave that money on the table.”

    If the moguls are leaving any money on any table, it’s probable that they’re doing so in the hope of gathering bigger money somewhere else.

    Thus we get the ethnic buddy-pictures: Chan/Tucker, Wayans/Sandler, and even (in a rare ‘two black guys for the price of one’ deal) Smith/Lawrence.

    Such films have the potential power to rope in assorted demographics, possibly *largely* black and white males.

    So if the moguls look at the money Tyler Perry makes, they probably don’t jump to the conclusion that they could fund some similar proto-Perry and rake in more bucks. They probably think,”Our proven marketing strategy seems more dependable than staking cash on some new guy, so we’ll stick with ethnic buddy-pictures.” Some of those will fail at the BO, of course, but they may seem more likely successes than an attempt to foster a new Perry– who, again, probably will *not* enjoy wide crossover success if he’s marketed along the same basic lines.

  55. Also, I should add that what I just described as the moguls’ strategy doesn’t sound all that different than DC’s stategy.

    The film-moguls are just playing for bigger stakes and have a longer history of successes playing that game.

  56. >> So if the moguls look at the money Tyler Perry makes, they probably don’t jump to the conclusion that they could fund some similar proto-Perry and rake in more bucks. They probably think,”Our proven marketing strategy seems more dependable than staking cash on some new guy, so we’ll stick with ethnic buddy-pictures.”>>

    Of course, they do make COLLEGE ROAD TRIP, THINK LIKE A MAN, DEATH AT A FUNERAL, JUST WRIGHT and other largely-black-cast movies aimed at much the same demo.

    One of the big differences between movie studios and some comic book publishers is that movie studios are perfectly willing to chase multiple audiences if they feel they can do it profitably, so ethnic buddy pictures don’t preclude ensemble black comedies, not if one will bring in young men and the other will bring in black men and women. And if musicals are making money, you’ll see musicals. 3-D? That too. You probably won’t see a whole lot of 3-D ethnic-buddy romantic comedy musicals, though, because movie studios don’t try to chase everyone at once.

    Comics publishers do sometimes seem to try to sell what works well for one demo to everyone, rather than trying a different product for the new demo. Thus the “hey, this pneumatic, half-dressed pouty hootie-queen with cameltoe is about female empowerment” arguments.

    kdb

  57. @Will

    See…you’ve now completely undone any credibility you may have had. I wasn’t very convinced by your arguments to begin with, but seeing you go after Sue with such blatantly incorrect information and total distortion of actual facts undermines all your other arguments to me.

    Sue has been hugely positive about and promoting MANY of the DC books beyond Batwoman – including the ones you mention – Wonder Woman and Supergirl. It’s true she hasn’t read Batgirl, but not reading a book and abstaining from discussion about it does not equal speaking negatively about it. I have read her positive pieces and have podcasted with her about these very books that you’re claiming she hasn’t been supporting or talking positively about and your statements just blatantly false (and the internet is right there at your fingertips to back me up). To miss all this obvious evidence that doesn’t support your hypothesis (and to offensively call someone out in public no less) calls into question pretty much everything you’ve put forth here.

  58. Will Naslund says:

    @Sue:

    Nice job ducking the substance of my question by focusing on its parenthetical.

    But, OK, I’ll play:

    1)I don’t think you can separate the Oracle vs. Walking!Babsgirl controversy from the promotion of the DCnU Batgirl title, since the former was a direct consequence of the latter. I think that even you would concede that your dislike of Babs’ return to the cowl would make DCWKA a less than ideal promotional venue for the launch of Batgirl #1.

    2)W/r/t BoP #1, here’s the first line of your review: “I’m a huge fan of the previous BoP runs and while this was not up to the level of Dixon’s and Simone’s first issues, it wasn’t bad.”

    “…it wasn’t bad” — Sue, DCWKA. Yeah, that’s the sort of blurb marketing/PR folks *dream* of. DC truly missed the boat by not hooking you up with an advance copy — or, you know, not so much.

    3)You have praised the Asrar’s Supergirl art, but that didn’t read to me as praise of the book overall.

    4)All that said, I’ll concede the point on Wonder Woman. I mistakenly thought you were among those who turned on the book in the wake of the Zeus retcon. My bad. The awesomeness of the WW book (and the Huntress LS) is actually something we can agree on. But Huntress was not a Nu52 launch title, so I didn’t list it in my rundown.

    But, just for the sake of argument, let’s go ahead and give you credit for positive feedback on Batwoman, WW, Supergirl, JLD — that’s 4 out of 52, still pretty long odds for our hypothetical DC marketer in search of positive buzz. Even if I give you ‘credit’ for BoP and Batgirl as well, that still makes it only 6 of 52 titles total — or in other words an whopping 11.5% chance that our imaginary marketer will get something they can use by reaching out to you.

    Does that seem like a sound business decision to you?

    @Mme. Beat:

    “…now what wankery is that? My problem with your posts is that you pretend to have a reasonable facade but all this axe grinding is going on in the subtext.”

    ‘Axe grinding’ implies I have some personal beef with the CA folks. I don’t. I’ve never met Laura Hudson, Chris Sims, or anybody else in CA’s employ, and I’m quite willing to believe that they’re all perfectly lovely people in their personal interactions. Heck, I even used to be a fan of Sims’ writing on The ISB, back when he was actually funny.

    I just happen to think that CA’s op-ed writing on what some would call ‘social justice’ issues w/r/t mainstream comics kinda sucks. I think it tends to employ a lot of armchair psychology, quasi-kulturkampf critical theory, and other argumentative tactics of dubious merit/faith — and does so in such a way as to generate heat rather than light, fostering an atmosphere of ‘let’s you and you fight’ in their comment threads that seems intended to troll for hits on their for-profit blog.

    Or to put in even more succinctly, a lot of their op-ed writing seems to be written with the express purpose of generating wank and fostering bad feeling between different segments of comics fandom — and I think that’s a bad thing.

    [For an example of that kind of subject matter *can* be tackled in a way that fosters actual discussion as opposed to yet another round of wank, check out Colin @ 'Too Busy Thinking About My Comics'. He manages to accomplish such feats on a regular basis.]

    Is that ‘textual’ enough for you?

    With that out of the way, I do want to point out something you wrote in your last comment that was pretty awesome:

    “I’ve long said that of course some video games and comics are for boys or men. But why not also make comics for more demographics?”

    I’m actually with you on this 100%. See my pitch for a female-friendly genre comics mini-imprint upthread.

    That was the essence of my disagreement with your initial post in fact: DC, Marvel, whoever needs to target female readers at the *content* level. Then, once they have appropriate content — market that to key fangirl venues.

    At the end of the day, I think that the wants of the female audience (which I agree is out there in numbers worth at least attempting to target) are sufficiently distinct from the wants of the existing audience that marketing the DCNu titles to them isn’t going to generate much return on DC/WB’s marketing investment — and that changing the content/style of the DCnU to cater to those theoretical readers would result in alienating large numbers of actual, existing readers. It’s the bird in the hand vs. the one in the bush all over again.

    IIRC, you’ve more than once lamented the lack of a shojo/magical girl style take on Wonder Woman. I agree that DC should absolutely try something like that — but a comic like that couldn’t fit within the tone and/or internal logic of the Nu52. So do *that* comic, place it within a line of similar female-friendly fare, and market the heck out of those titles to every female-friendly media outlet that will have you.

    In other words, stop trying to market the equivalent of G.I. Joe to girls when what most of them likely want is something along the lines of Barbie. When they go to the toy (comic) store to check out the Barbie stuff, the G.I. Joes will be right there if/when some of them want to sample something different — but to get them *to the store in the first place*, bait the hook with something cool and contemporary — but also well within their comfort zone.

  59. @will I’m glad to see you admit you were wrong. But you did make me laugh by pulling partial quotes off my website to make your point and choosing to ignore the stuff that didn’t support your points. You know the like the positive reviews of Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Batman, Static Shock, etc. I am just going to agree with Heidi that you’re axe grinding.

  60. Will Naslund says:

    @Kelly

    “To miss all this obvious evidence that doesn’t support your hypothesis (and to offensively call someone out in public no less) calls into question pretty much everything you’ve put forth here.”

    Nah, given that even giving credit Sue for all the ‘positive’ coverage she cited in her reply to me still means that she only gave positive coverage to about 11.5% of the DCnU books, it really doesn’t. But if you’re looking for a convenient way to dismiss my arguments for your own comfort, I guess any old excuse will do — no matter how perfunctory.

    And none of this is about ‘calling her out’, for crying out loud. I’m simply suggesting that DC wouldn’t have been wise to use her tumblr as a marketing channel. That doesn’t make Sue a bad person or anything, it just makes her a poor conduit for their promotional content. Which is what this discussion is supposed to be about.

    Furthermore, how his it ‘calling her out’ when Heidi linked to her blog (and C&Ped portions of her piece on the issue) in the first place? I didn’t make Sue part of this discussion, *the original post* did.

    And as for the charge of ‘offensiveness’ — you have got to be kidding me. I’ve charged Sue with a preponderance of negativity in her comics coverage, but I’ve used civil language and refrained from ad hominem attacks throughout. Peruse Sue’s replies to me and you’ll see she can’t quite say the same.

  61. Will Naslund says:

    @Sue

    “I am just going to agree with Heidi that you’re axe grinding.”

    ‘Axe grinding’ would if I was making personal attacks (which I haven’t done) — or if I was just saying that your (and others’) ideas wouldn’t work without offering making an affirmative case for what, IMHO, would work (see upthread for a couple of different suggestions), etc.

    So, just for a dose of frikkin’ clarity, Sue — I have nothing against you personally. Our views on feminism, cultural dynamics, and mainstream superhero comics clearly differ (though possibly not as much as you might imagine), but we apparently share an appreciation for the current WW and Huntress titles, and your link to the DKR prologue site scored me a pair of tickets that made last Tuesday night quite enjoyable. Thanks for that.

    And while I disagree with many of your DCWKA pieces, and what I feel is an overall atmosphere of negativity that often pervades your DC coverage, I often find it interesting reading. I’ve got no interest in seeing you go away, be silenced, whatever.

    With all that said, I still think that DCWKA (along with TMS, and *most definitely* Jezebel) would have been a poor choice for marketing conduit for the Nu52 books. The odds of them picking a title you would have liked and given positive coverage to seem low and, moreover, the bulk of your readership appears to be already thoroughly clued in to DC’s past and present offerings, so the chance of snagging *new* readers would’ve been relatively low.

    If you choose to take that assessment personally, then it’s your own sense of entitlement that is way out of whack.

  62. @Will

    It’s offensive to me anytime anyone comes at someone (especially publicly) and takes them to task not only with no facts to back it up, but with blatantly false information and then instead of apologizing when they realize their mistake just tries to come up with more evidence of OTHER things they don’t agree with to justify their position.

    You wouldn’t find that offensive if someone did that to you? I’d be shocked if you didn’t…because, well, it’d damn offensive. You expected her to be all “thank you sir, may I please have some more” when you can’t even apologize for what you’ve been getting wrong?

    I needed nothing to justify ignoring your arguments, which did not move me in the slightest, as I said originally. But for those who might have been moved (however unlikely) by your arguments, the reality that you can’t get your facts right on something so simple surely has them shook.

    As for percentages, you still have your facts dead wrong (she’s also written/talked positively about Animal Man, Demon Knights, Swamp Thing, Batman, Static Shock…and that’s just off the top of my head), but from where I’m standing 11.5% (IF it was correct) is not an unreasonable number. That said, pulling one quote out of all the posts and podcasts and using that to sum up Sue’s detailed thoughts on these things is ridiculous.

    Here, let me show you how that looks when we turn it around. “Hey everyone, this is how Will Nashlund feels about Comics Alliance: “their (CA’s) op-ed writing seems to be written with the express purpose of generating wank and fostering bad feeling.””

    Do you feel like, out of context, that is wholly accurate? Would you want people to just read that and have it be their entire takeaway of your opinion?

    Lastly, for the record, whether DCWKA is a good place for previews is actually NOT what this post is about, not at all. Sue didn’t suggest it and neither did Heidi – this is an idea I believe YOU worked into the conversation. So acting like they proposed this and you’re shooting down the fallacies in their ideas is simply ludicrous.

    More to the point – the idea that DC should give a copy of Catwoman, Red Hood, Voodoo, etc. to a female focused pub is absolutely moronic – and anyone that did so should be fired immediately – because those books would – rightfully so – be eviscerated. But suggesting that they give Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, etc. to a female focused pub, is just common sense. C’mon now.

    With regard to these publications you’re ignoring a huge part of the correlation here. You submit The Mary Sue/Jezebel/DCWKA/etc as “negative” and not places where material can be trusted to be sent. I submit that they’re feminist and working toward moving the needle of comics (no small feat), and thus they are critical when they need to be and heap praise when they can…all dependent on the CONTENT they are provided. It would defeat the ENTIRE PURPOSE of trying to move the needle if sites were critical of work that was legitimately good the same way they are critical of work that is legitimately bad…it would defeat their whole purpose. They are trying to get MORE of the good because they are sick to death of it being so painfully outweighed by the bad. It does nothing for them to criticize unnecessarily work that actually tries to handle female characters well and tell great stories. Now, good is subjective and reviews are always tough because everyone has an opinion, but there are absolutely titles in the DCnU that I feel would easily have passed the litmus test on these sites and I think you know it too. But DC didn’t try for it. Why? Huge following of Hunger Games on Jezebel…the audience DC claims to want for Supergirl…but no preview. Why?

    And for the record, Jezebel DID feature advanced images of Spider-Girl as well as short interview with the creator when it re-launched. The resulting piece was positive and supportive and straight up said they’d like to see more of these books in comics. It didn’t change the world for that book, but it was still a good idea, or at least the start of one.

  63. Oh, and that Jezebel Spider-Girl piece?

    Over 35,000 hits, 278 comments, 362 FB “likes”.

    It’s a big damn site people.

  64. Will Naslund says:

    “You wouldn’t find that offensive if someone did that to you? I’d be shocked if you didn’t…because, well, it’d damn offensive. You expected her to be all “thank you sir, may I please have some more” when you can’t even apologize for what you’ve been getting wrong?”

    Point me to where I asked Sue to be grateful or appreciative for any aspect of my critique. Oh, that’s right — you can’t, because I haven’t requested that at any point in this discussion. I think there’s a happy medium between ‘gratitude’ and ‘hostility’, (call it ‘polite dissent’) and that’s where I’d like these exchanges to take place.

    (Also, you seemed to have missed the bit where I apologized for mischaracterizing Sue’s stance on the current WW series.)

    “I needed nothing to justify ignoring your arguments, which did not move me in the slightest, as I said originally. But for those who might have been moved (however unlikely) by your arguments, the reality that you can’t get your facts right on something so simple surely has them shook.”

    And I’m sure the hypothetical people whose existence you doubt are truly touched by your concern. Or perhaps not. Really this is just you using highly dubious logic to invalidate an argument…you already dismissed as invalid. Was there an actual point here, I mean beyond you playing self-congratulatory rhetorical games with yourself?

    “Here, let me show you how that looks when we turn it around. “Hey everyone, this is how Will Nashlund feels about Comics Alliance: “their (CA’s) op-ed writing seems to be written with the express purpose of generating wank and fostering bad feeling.””

    Well, other than misspelling my name, that’s actually a decent distillation of my take on CA’s op-ed writing — I do think it’s damn wanky stuff. Is there more to my position? Sure, you can find it in post above, but it’s no more a misrepresentation of my thoughts than the excerpt I used from Sue’s BoP #1 review was of hers.

    “Lastly, for the record, whether DCWKA is a good place for previews is actually NOT what this post is about, not at all. Sue didn’t suggest it and neither did Heidi – this is an idea I believe YOU worked into the conversation.”

    Lol. Actually, Kelly, *you* were the one that broached the subject of DCWKA as a marketing conduit. Check the comments of Sue’s piece Heidi linked to above and refresh your memory.

    “More to the point – the idea that DC should give a copy of Catwoman, Red Hood, Voodoo, etc. to a female focused pub is absolutely moronic – and anyone that did so should be fired immediately – because those books would – rightfully so – be eviscerated.”

    Are you actually arguing that DC creative (let alone DC Marketing) could have anticipated the wankstorms that followed the release of Catwoman #1 and RH&tO #1? Catwoman and Jason Todd are both characters with sizable female fanbases — do you think DC sought to deliberately alienate those readers?

    I’m going to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the question of which books would get ‘rightfully eviscerated’ may be a lot clearer in hindsight — and that TPTB@DC are not nearly as adept at reading your minds as you think they are — and that likely factors into their cost/benefit assessments w/r/t where to market their titles.

    (Oh, and just to head off at least one rhetorical dodge at the pass: No I don’t think that any marketer would have been loopy enough to market Voodoo #1 in a female-focused space. That one I’ll give you.)

    But suggesting that they give Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, etc. to a female focused pub, is just common sense.”

    You mean, like this? ‘I think DC should have reached out to some of the more moderate fangirl websites, Sequential Tart or maybe Geek Mom, or perhaps a columnist with some sense of nuance like Kelly Thompson.’

    Then I agree! In fact, I *said the same exact thing several posts back* — though, sadly, I am starting to question the validity of my last suggestion. ;)

    The main questions are: What ‘female-focused pubs’ would be the best venues for DC’s marketing from a commercial standpoint? I disagreed with Heidi’s suggestions, which is what motivated me to post in this thread in the first place.

    And: Are there better ways to entice female readers then trying to sell them content not suited to their distinct preferences? I continue to think that a mini-imprint with genre content geared specifically to female readers would be a better ‘gateway drug’ for women who aren’t currently into comics.

    “With regard to these publications you’re ignoring a huge part of the correlation here. You submit The Mary Sue/Jezebel/DCWKA/etc as “negative” and not places where material can be trusted to be sent.”

    Well, yes — mostly. I would add that DCWKA and TMS are sites that serve a purpose by fostering a feminism-centric discussion of mainstream comics and giving folks with congruent views on those matters a place to gather and vent. I think that’s all well and good, but I think that purpose makes them less than ideal venues for DC’s marketing.

    OTOH, I think Jezebel is a lousy site, run by lousy human beings that, while it may purport to be ‘feminist’, is frequently misogynist to a rather toxic extent.

    Brief details here: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2010/07/outrage_world.html

    “…but there are absolutely titles in the DCnU that I feel would easily have passed the litmus test on these sites and I think you know it too.”

    Sure, I’ll stipulate to that.

    “But DC didn’t try for it. Why?”

    Because, as you said just before:

    “…good is subjective and reviews are always tough…”

    If I’m deciding where to direct DC’s finite marketing budget, why would I direct dollars (and/or my theoretically valuable time) to reach out to venues that have eviscerated other DC comics in the recent past? IMHO, even of those sites boast ‘positive’ content as well, the subjective nature of what we’re evaluating here makes using those venues an unnecessarily risky proposition — especially when more moderate female-friendly outlets exist. Why risk showing a preview of Comic A to Blog B, where there’s a possibility it’ll be savaged — when I know Blog C is much more likely to give it a warm reception?

    Or, to put it more bluntly: You can traffic in entertainment, ‘soft news’, and hype — or you can traffic in ideology (aka ‘working toward moving the needle of comics’). But if you choose to traffic in the latter, or try to traffic in both (without drawing bright line distinctions between your ‘news’ and ‘editorial’ content) — don’t be surprised if the creators of the media you’re focused on choose to keep you at arm’s length. They’re trying to entertain, you’re trying to agitate for change — and there’s just not an awful lot of overlap in those agendas.

  65. @Will

    Your comment at 5:44pm is the first time I see mention of the idea of Sue’s site getting a preview…?

    I do apologize for typing your name wrong, it’s a typo (there are others) but yes, it’s not cool to get someone’s name wrong, so, apologies.

    As to everything else, I fundamentally disagree with every single thing you’ve written. And I’m sure if I wrote some massive response you would disagree with everything I say. As such I’m just going to disengage and move on.

    Please feel free to stop reading my “more nuanced columns”, because as the saying goes…”with friends like that…”

  66. Will N.,
    I finally got a chance to read the Slate link, for which thanx.

    If there’s ever been a subculture ripe for the “outrage world,” it’s the comics community.

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