Robot 6

Adams plugs business venture in strip, people get upset


Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams fell into a bit of controversy last week when he decided to promote his latest business venture, DilbertFiles, a file transfer service, three times in his daily comic strip. This didn’t sit well with some folks:

While this may have small repercussions today, it is scary to consider what can happen within the next years. If Adams succeeds with this promotion, his footsteps will be followed by a lot of comic authors. If you think about it, comic artists do not make a lot. But once you mix in product placement, it changes a lot of things.

However, what happens to the art? Comic strips have always been pure humor in three to six captions. Inserting a product placement in these captions can compromise the three or six frames. Authors have to take note that, while profit is always welcome, creative integrity should be given a premium.

In a recent interview with Editor and Publisher, Adams remained unapologetic about the promotional ploy:

“The purpose of comics is to sell newspapers,” Adams said, noting a past Charles Schulz viewpoint. “A comic strip is a gross commercial product. I am never against commercialization. The only test you need to meet is entertainment – who is hurt by that?”

He stressed, however, that placing images of products or text referring to them could impede the entertainment value of a comic strip because of the space. “Because the art form is shoved into such a tiny box, there is a limited space to fit it in,” he explained. “There is no elegant way to do it.”

Citing the three strips he drew this week that mentioned his Dilbertfiles business, he admits, “I would agree they were not as funny as they could have been; I was serving too many concepts. But it served its purpose.”

Adams added that he doesn’t plan on mentioning DilbertFiles again in the strip, at least not for some time to come.



I don’t see what the big deal is. We live in the Age of Product Placement. It’s everywhere- TV shows, movies, even comics. As long as it doesn’t get so blatant that it distracts from what’s going on, it’s OK.

I think the bigger story here is – people still read Dilbert?

Too easy? ;)

It’s been so long since Dilbert had anything to contribute to the discussion about the workplace that it might as well be an ad. It’s almost never funny anymore.

Honestly, maybe product placement is a good thing for comic strips. The format is struggling right now to stay alive in print, what with newspapers closing or scrapping their comics on a near daily basis. Product placement could become a form of advertising and possibly incoming revenue (or at the very least, a way for cartoonists to syndicate to papers for less $$$, therefore making comics a better value for newspapers).

I think it all comes down to this – is it still funny? If product placement creates vapid content, then forget about it. Adams cartoon in this post is questionable. The problem is that the gag here is based around the placement in an awkward manner. Not that it lacks humor… but that the placement is so overt, it borders on distraction.

They have a nice little meta-quality to them that’s funny enough…addressing the fans’ criticisms before they happened. I think they work well enough.

Entertainment has been “brought to you by” advertisement since the earliest soap operas, named for the brands of cleaners that they were sponsored by.

This strip is a lot like the “integrity” scene from Wayne’s World. It is so blatant that it *is* the joke, and it works.

I read Dilbert and didn’t even realize that was actual product placement. Wow, how out of touch am I?

To link or not to link, that is the question. Two local newspapers in my city are going on strike. Go figure. With the economy the way it is as of late, you cannot lose a single edition. Their ad sections have serious shrinkage problems. Now Mr. Adams is brilliant with his concept. Charles Schulz pimped his characters to practically anybody who could put an image on anything. I am surprised Planters never did a Peanuts product or a Kraft Peanuts peanut butter. I digress. What is going on lately? Is everybody gunning for the cartoonist or what? From political Muslim parodies to coffee bean lawsuits. Somebody please take a pill. Adams has to do something to stay alive. The newspapers are not doing a good job in keeping circulation numbers up. What is a cartoonist to do. He has to fend for himself and come up with new business ventures. When a strip can advertise the cartoonist’s website or the syndicate company he works for, is that any different? I think this stems from a jealous cartoonists who did not think of this first and cried foul. Something is rotten in Denmark my dear Hamlet. I just find it very sad that people don’t get a simple joke.

Leave a Comment


Browse the Robot 6 Archives