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Complications Ensue:
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Studio Reader Stan takes a potshot at marketing people in his latest comic strip.

C'mon. Taking potshots at marketing people is shooting fish in a barrel. All creatives have instinctive disrespect for the people who tell them broad truths about the audience, taken out of context ("Everybody likes monkeys!") and draws lame conclusions from them ("We want Seinfeld! But with a monkey!)

The truth is, though, that we creatives work in a relative vacuum. Most of our friends are creative people who work irregular jobs. I can take a wild guess at what the guy who works in the auto plant in Mahwah (at least till last month) likes to watch on TV, but only because of the numbers. Apparently he likes to watch comfort food TV -- crime dramas where the heroes are heroes and the villains are vile and the heroes always get the villains by the end of the hour. I like to watch MAD MEN, where if you get up to go to the fridge in the middle, you'll miss something important.

Which is where marketing people come in. And focus groups. And testers. If focus groups didn't work at all, networks wouldn't use them. Granted, they can become insulation for network execs ("How was I supposed to know it would tank? The testing was through the roof!") But sometimes creatives need to be reminded that if the show is all over the place, changing genre in mid-episode, writers may think it's cool, but watchers will think it's confusing. (Cf FIREFLY.)

Marketing feedback is like all feedback. You can't take it literally; you have to interpret it. But all feedback is useful, if you figure out how to use it.



Please tell me you're not hating on the amazingness of Firefly.

Granted, I might be a writer and love it, but I have several friends who work the "normal" jobs who thought it was fantastic as well. Not to mention Serenity at all.

By Blogger Andrew Kosarko - Screenwriter, at 11:36 AM  

No way, man. I love FIREFLY.

But I'm a writer. Of course I think it's cool. Joss is a writer's writer.

The ratings, however, were not good. As you know.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 11:38 AM  

Oh sadly, I know. My only problem was that I had no clue it was even on when it was on. I'm sure I would have checked it out because I was a fan of his from Buffy. And I'm watching as much of Dollhouse as I can and getting everyone I know to watch it in an attempt to give him a chance to accomplish more great writing.

Really though, Marketing does screw up a lot of good Television. Arrested Development is a great example of that. I'll never forget the out takes reel where David Cross rants about how the they want to change up a multi-award winning show's great writing and not try and fix the marketing attempts.

By Blogger Andrew Kosarko - Screenwriter, at 11:54 AM  

It's true, you might miss something important if you go to the fridge during the middle of Mad Men. Or you might just miss Don Draper drink, smoke and say nothing for a minute at a time.

By Blogger Jed, at 5:06 PM  


By Blogger sex, at 3:17 PM  

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