‘Dilbert’ Creator’s File Storage Biz Reference Irks Comic Purists

By: Joe Strupp

Dilbert creator Scott Adams is not only getting into online file storage, but promoting it in his famous comic strip — a move not everyone likes.

“From Microsoft to Amazon to countless Internet startups, it seems like everyone is getting into online storage and other forms of cloud computing,” TechFlash of Seattle stated on its site. “But the latest player in the market has a unique — and somewhat questionable — technique for advertising its service.? The new entrant is Dilbert creator Scott Adams, who embedded in today’s strip a not-very-subtle plug for an online file-sharing and storage service called DilbertFiles.com.”

The controversial strip promoting the site can be seen here.

Tech Flash quoted Adams as writing, “As the number of traditional newspapers continues to shrink, this is the sort of thing that will help keep Dilbert free online. If you know anyone who moves large files around for work, or for fun, please do them and me a favor by forwarding the link.”

The move brought opposition from some observers such as Mark Van Patten at the Newspaper Business blog, who wrote: “Scott Adams is filthy rich. And he didn?t get that way from what newspapers pay him. He got that way by leveraging the brand newspapers created for Dilbert into mega-book deals and merchandising deals.”

Adams responded to some of the uproar in an e-mail to TechFlash that said:

“If you’re writing about it, I’m doing my job. Actually, lots of people are blogging about it today because I intentionally violated what readers perceive as a boundary. That’s what I do, on a good day. I haven’t heard any complaints from newspapers. They would have complained in advance if they had an issue, since they see the comic a week or two before it is published. And frankly, they know I push some boundaries.

“Remember that Dilbert appears in the business section for many newspapers. While some comic purists will get the heebie jeebies from what they see as gross commercialism (a comment I get on a regular basis anyway), the business community will mostly find it an interesting experiment.??

“Dilbert has always been a mixture of fantasy and reality. Most of the humor comes directly from real life, including my own. So bringing Dilbertfiles.com into the comic world is less of a stretch with Dilbert than it would be with Garfield. And as you will see when the series unfolds, the story requires Dilbert’s product to have something like a Dilbertfiles.com URL.??

“As an advertisement for Dilbertfiles.com, I expect it to have a trivial impact, so no need to hate me on that level. As a creative violation of what readers expect of a comic strip, it’s an attention-getter. The fun part was seeing how many people checked the Dilbertfiles.com URL to see if it was real.??

“The first rule of art is that you want to make the audience ‘do something.’ That could include laughing or crying, but it can also include talking about the art with friends, forming a book club, or in this case trying to figure out if what I did was clever or foolish. I did anticipate a strong reaction.”

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