Do you guys know what outrage marketing is? Just in case, let me try to summarize it. It’s when a company creates an advertising campaign or even a product itself, that they know will be very polarizing to the public, in order to (at least in part) generate outrage in some faction of the customer base.
The outraged portion of people will then becomes vocal and if the company is lucky another faction will oppose them. This makes word of mouth spread exponentially faster and have a hugely wider reach and can even make the campaign somewhat self-sustaining as members of the public keep arguing over it long after the commercial has aired.
From what I understand, it is currently one of the most effective marketing methods out there that can yield an amazing return on capital, when done right. When done wrong you risk royally annoying and alienating all of your potential customers, which isn’t great…
I’ve been seeing a similar phenomenon in anime except, much weirder. It’s as if I was watching outrage marketing, without the outrage (and up to a certain point, without the marketing either). I find this phenomenon pretty interesting. I figure it must happen in other communities as well, but I have personally seen it most often and most obviously, with anime watchers.
Some of you probably already know what I’m talking about. At least, I hope I’m not the only one that has noticed this. For the past year or two maybe, I regularly see anime fans defending series against outrage that either hasn’t happened yet or is so disproportionately minimal compared to the response, that it seems just odd.
This season, I have seen posts and tweets and essays defending Redo of the Healer, and I have yet to see a single attack on the series. This actually happens for at least one show every season, so I figured maybe I was not seeing the attacks. But a search for the anime name on Twitter yielded the same results, not a single outrage tweet unless you count an ecchi reviewer who called it lazy bottom-tiered storytelling. But that sounded more like exhaustion than outrage.
Of course, fans went absolutely insane with the saga of Interspecies Reviewers. However, the show was simply moved to a subsidiary and I noticed that all the bloggers that had access to it didn’t lose access so the practical implications were minimal. It was more of a question of principals. And that’s fine. But the outrage at the outrage certainly did an amazing job getting, what I am to understand is a fairly average series, onto the radar of every anime fan out there for a little while.
I also remember a lot of posts really aggressively defending the fanservice season 1 of Fire Force. Telling people that disliked it, that they didn’t understand anime or Japanese cultural traditions. That’s the polite way of saying it, it got a bit heated. However, most of the “outrage” I did see was exactly the same as I voiced at the time (I was part of the outrage on that issue). Basically, fans felt the fanservice for one character wasn’t handled very well and was doing a character a disservice and getting in the way of their development. Pretty much all of these “outraged” fans were actively watching and enjoying Fire Force.
That outrage was, for the most part, soft constructive criticism about a singular particular use of fanservice in a show that also used fanservice on most other characters without any criticism.
Now I don’t think it was deliberate on the part of the studios or anyone associated with these shows, but I’m sure all of these series got a popularity boost just from having so many people talk about them and “protect” them. Now imagine if a studio figures out how to harness that!
I’m not a huge fan of outrage marketing. I think there’s really way too much overreaction in the present climate, as it is. Also, I find it particularly manipulative, even for marketing. But even I would be impressed if a company figured out how to properly generate outrage without the initial outrage.
I’m not sure if it’s possible to do that on purpose. It seems like the sort of situation that simply can’t be manufactured. But if it could, the anime community would probably be one of the best places for it.
For better or for worse, we are protective, arguably overprotective, of our beloved medium. It really doesn’t take much for us to go on a crusade Which is amazing stuff for anyone trying to sell us something. Kinda. Some of us are also really passionate about not paying for anime which is less amazing for selling stuff but that’s a completely different discussion.
I’m honestly super curious about how one would create an atmosphere that would mobilize a community to vocally defend an anime even if it doesn’t get attacked. Because if they can crack that nut, then it could be used for all sorts of shows. You’d have people passionately defending the latest shonen or standing up for March Comes In Like a Lion! Preemptively getting ready to battle the hordes in the name of To Your Eternity! And I think that would be kinda cool.
We need to calm it down a bit. It’s a touch aggressive for my tastes as it is. However, can you imagine opening twitter and discovering a bunch of anime you have never heard of because you have a bunch of people proclaiming how great those shows are or tenderly telling you all the reasons you should watch them?
And on a business level, that would that the industry would have this great source of publicity that it doesn’t need to spend any money on. That’s a bit of a dream but it’s a nice dream. I wanted to share it with you.