Dark Horse Runs Contest to Build Mailing List

Earlier this year, I criticized Zenescope for running contests instead of paying photo models. Now, Dark Horse is doing the same thing (only without as much sleaze). (Link no longer available.)

They’ve launched a “Show us you love Dark Horse Comics” contest. They want pictures of fans they can run on Facebook and their website and online ads… and one lucky winner might get $1000 at the end of August. In the meantime, everyone else is granting them a perpetual photo license “for art, advertising, trade or any similar lawful purpose”.

Plus, “the information obtained via the entry will be used by Sponsors and their affiliates for marketing purposes. Sponsors and their affiliates would like to use this information to contact you either by mail or email with updates about special promotions or offers.” Hey, free mailing list too! There’s nothing unusual about that. That’s why most companies run contests, to get your information so they can sell stuff to you, but most contests also have a bigger range of prizes, so more people have a chance to win at least something for their personal info.

I’m sure, in this modern world of Facebook privacy problems and internet openness (whether you like it or not), most people won’t have a problem with the idea of having their likeness plastered all over online for no compensation, so I’m probably complaining about nothing. I just would like people to think a little more about what they’re signing up for before the word “contest” overwhelms all practical thought.


4 Responses to “Dark Horse Runs Contest to Build Mailing List”

  1. Aaron Colter Says:

    Hi Johanna,

    I’m the representative from Dark Horse who, in part, dreamed up this campaign. I’m the goofy guy in the videos floating around the Internet, and the person responsible for communicating with fans on our social networks.

    I just wanted to clarify that Dark Horse is in no way taking email addresses from people who submit photos to ‘ilovecomics@darkhorse.com’ so that we can push them a newsletter they never signed up to receive.

    We have a newsletter for fans, you can sign up for it, and our B.P.R.D. group, on the following page: http://www.darkhorse.com/Newsletter

    The language you have quoted is included at the request of our legal department. As well, the reason we must ask people grant us license for the photo they submit is so that we can post those photos on our Facebook page, use them for print ads in our comics (some of which have already started running), and for graphics at places like San Diego Comic-Con.

    Dark Horse is an independent comic book publisher, one of the last, operating out of the Portland, OR area. We’re about as far away from “evil corporatism” as one could get.

    I don’t want to criticize Zenescope for doing their thing, but comparing their calendar of scantly-clad ladies to our goal of an online photo-album showing the many diverse faces of comic lovers is quite the stretch.

    We started this campaign earlier this year and have received several photos from people around the world, long before their was talk of prize money. We decided to offer up some prize money this summer because President Mike Richardson wanted to reward one lucky fan this year, thanking them for the continued support in economic tough times. This campaign seemed to be the best fit for that goal.

    Anyone worried that we’ll steal your likeness and forever run advertisements with your face shouldn’t worry. We’ve got more important things to do, like making comics.

    Anyone who still has concerns is welcome to find us on Facebook, where I’ll be happy to respond.

    Thanks for reading,

    -Aaron Colter

  2. Johanna Says:

    Hi, nice to meet you, Aaron. Thanks for stopping by and explaining things.

    While I appreciate the “bad lawyers, they made us do it” caveat (and I know how true that often is), I still think people need to know what they’re agreeing to, and how small their chance is of getting any compensation. If you don’t intend to use their information for marketing, maybe the lawyers should change the clause that explicitly says otherwise in the rules?

    Me, I’d find the contest more interesting with a few more prize packs and maybe a free comic for everyone who enters. I know that would raise your costs, so it’s probably not possible. Even recasting it as “we want to know what our fans look like”, as you indicate above, is more intriguing, in my opinion (for what that’s worth), than another low-chance contest.

    I believe you when you say “ignore those rules clauses, you can trust us”, but plenty of companies say that who aren’t quite so trustworthy (as many Facebook users are finding out recently, which is why I canceled my account there). When a contract says one thing and a rep says otherwise, unfortunately, the contract’s going to win if things go sour. I know everyone expects roses and good feelings, though.

  3. Aaron Colter Says:

    Wow, looking at the date now, I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to respond! Apologies.

    You’re absolutely correct, people should definitely know what they’re getting into, and I welcome any questions on Facebook as noted above. We try to do a lot of contests through our website, at conventions, and even in local shops around the country, most of which are free books and collectible items. I do a weekly one every Friday on Twitter as well.

    You have a fantastic site. I know many people in the office, including myself, read it on a regular basis, so keep up the great work!

    Thanks for giving me a forum to explain our stance on the campaign.

  4. Wheeler Hall Says:

    Truth is, no matter how much Aaron Colter tries to whitewash it, asking for rights in perpetuity “for art, advertising, trade or any similar lawful purpose” without payment to the individual is underhanded and shady. He and his lawyers know that asking for one time rights is more than sufficient, and if Dark Horse wanted to use the photo again, then another form of payment should be tendered to the model. Give it up for free, and they’ll gladly take it.

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