Last week, Scott Kurtz made some waves about how he was selling product placement in his comics. Pay a fee, and you get a mention in the illustrious PvP webcomic. (Details on his blog and at Comics Alliance.) Here’s Mr. Kurtz’s take on it:
And I asked myself, why *DO* I keep the strip off limits to advertising? I mention real products all the time. The PvP gang has played Dungeons and Dragons, gone to see every Star Wars film, quote Trek non-stop and choose Coke over Pepsi. I’m already doing it, I’m just not getting paid for it. And if you do it right, like in Mad Men, who would care? You know the dirty secret is that as comic strip creators, we’re really not supposed to mention actual products in our strips. That’s why when you watch reality TV, the producers go out of their way to cover up logos, and place gaffers tape across tee shirts. But we do it all the time and get away with it because as geeks, most of the products we mention are created by companies that “get it” and are excited to be a part of the culture at large. And the big corporations are…well…too big to notice. Or care.
So I started talking about it with my advertising guys. Mike and Jeff are smart cookies and they are very keen when it comes to navigating these unspoken relationships between creator, client and fan. We started to brainstorm and we decided that if we were to try something like this, a lot of things had to line up:
– The product would have to be something I believed in.
– The product had to be something I would comment on in PvP anyway.
– The client would have to be forward thinking, and geek savvy, and be able to poke fun at themselves.
– The client would have to understand that the inclusion of their company into the strip would have to serve the greater story or humor.
So what do you think, Webcomic Overlook readers? Savvy business decision, or selling out? Frankly, I’m not quite sure if Kurtz’s logic hold up here. It would be like the MST3K deciding that they’ve mentioned Smucker’s Jelly in their jokes so much that they deserve a sponsorship. In a way, it curtails the spontenaiety of the humor.
But that’s just my opinion. What do you think?