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Fursuit entrepreneur learns rocky lessons about advertising

Edited by dronon as of Mon 22 Apr 2019 - 13:22
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A picture of a logo, with the text, Zweitesich is the German idea of a Second Self. When it comes to embodying it, we believe there's no room for compromise.Zweitesich, a fursuit "designer label", released their first line of partial fursuits to the general public on April 16th. The three available designs are currently being sold for $6,000 apiece, and were advertised in a similar way as designer clothing brands Calvin Klein or Tommy Hilfiger. The product launch, like that of a large sea-faring vessel, ended up with a lot of shattered glass on the ground, as many in the furry community did not receive the promotion fondly.

The Zweitesich brand name is a German compound word that means "second self" (zweites + ich). At first there was speculation that the price and advertising schemes were so tone-deaf that it was coming from an outside group, looking to cash in on fursuit fans. The ads were being done through a new social media account that hid its ties to whoever the designer was. However, the speculation was proven wrong when the actual fursuit creator stepped forward and apologized for the marketing mistakes. It turned out to be AlbinoTopaz, whose previous fursuits had broken records at auctions, like "Lavender Corgi" which had sold on FurBuy for $8,025 in 2014.

In their statement, Albino explained that she had hired a marketing designer to develop the video and campaign for Zweitesich's first line of products. But the marketer and Albino had different opinions on how aggressive the ads should be to help the fursuits stick out from the ever-growing field of fursuit makers. The marketer, who wasn't part of furry fandom, has corroborated what happened and agreed that they had misjudged the reaction their work would receive.

There were many critical views on why the promotion was tone-deaf. Some designer labels have been tied to the exploitation of overseas workers to increase profits, so maybe it wasn't a good idea to emulate that style of branding. In fact, the ones I mentioned earlier (Klein and Hilfiger) had their parent company announce an investigation into the abuse of their Ethiopian workers, on the very same day that Zweitesich started their promotion. And there were other disconnects and misunderstandings. For example, whether the partials were to be one-of-a-kind, or if they would be mass-produced (as is the case with clothes). AlbinoTopaz noted in a follow-up statement that the items would be unique, and what some of her plans were for the brand.

However, the strongest criticism was made against the ad campaign's phrasing, which came off as belittling and elitist to other fursuit designers. This is an example of how one of the ads used to look:

Zweitesich suits are for those who wish to have an incomparable second self created by a designer, not ordered from a tailor.

By saying that Zweitesich was a fursuit designer (in some ads, the "very first"), and that other creators were merely tailors, the marketing fell short of the fandom's camaraderie and communal creative spirit, instead suggesting a sense of cut-throat competitiveness. As of today, the pages with provocative wording appear to have been reworked or removed.

In her follow-up statement, AlbinoTopaz also said she's parted ways with her marketer. Although initially she had seen potential in the marketer's profession, they didn't understand the nuances of selling a product within furry fandom. Instead, the fursuit maker is moving forward to regain her customers' faith, and that if she rebuilds it and sells her fursuits with a more genuine approach, then those "second selves" will eventually find a home.


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I'm not trying to suggest that at least some people didn't feel that way, I'd be more surprised if they didn't. But it'd help to maybe back up these statements with tweets or something expressing that side of the outrage. But there's another side, too. I only found out about this because a buddy of mine from Discord showed me the same screencap of the ad-speak provided in the article and he (and I'm presuming some of his Twitter friends) were mainly pissed at the blatant cynicism behind the rationalization the ad attempts to make for charging as much or more for some glorified partials than what entire suits often go for. And I wholeheartedly agree. Like, as if furries, (being like all consumers at the end of the day according to said "logic"), are so stupid they'll just hear this fancy name and assume it must be legit, and there really is a fursuit equivalent of Louis Vuitton that's worth spending an arm and a leg on to "accessorize" to be part of some elite class that can afford it.

By the way, let's take a look at their logo while we're at it, note the similarities...

The messed up thing is, there's nothing wrong with just selling brand name partials if those partials are name brand, and that's something the market should decide rather than a company try to tell us what the market has decided for us. But tell that to any company these days...

The most ironic thing about this is how to use these for an actual fursuit if that's what you wanted, you'd need to have a "tailor" make the rest of the suit if you want a full suit. So uh, what if that tailor is you? And it's such a stupid distinction anyway when you're talking about fursuits. Fursuit makers are basically equal parts tailor and designer.

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I wrote out a reply and once again can't fucking post it because of some broken code somewhere. Jesus Christ.

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Yeah sadly this site's software is rather primitive

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If you ping GreenReaper with what the exact issue you're having he can often fix it and/or let you know what you're doing wrong.

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It's not broken code. You were talking about Louis Vuitton - something only spammers do, in our anti-capitalist dystopia - so it marked your post as 'spam'. Fortunately this is just until moderators can review it for deletion or restoration.

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Yet you seem to struggle a bit with trolls

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No, I struggle to bother with trolls. This is a free speech dystopia, too! You can talk, there will just be consequences.

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Consequences that those inclined to troll on the level of you-know-who don't give a solitary fuck about if it means they can keep posting. Look man, I've been banned from a lot of forums in my day. And the reason is usually because I stop giving a shit about showing any level of respect whatsoever to staff who themselves don't give a shit about their own rules except when it's convenient and/or they're in the right mood. That or calling Chase a dogfucker.

But before it gets to that point, I'm usually arguing with people who are really only replying so they can argue with someone about something, and I'm sure you must remember this because you've been on the internet a pretty damn long time, THAT is what the definition of trolling used to be before the standards for online behavior bottomed the fuck out. Now, I feel like I've grown a bit since those days, and that's why I make it a point to just not engage certain people now after a few times. But certain things are always going to set you off like, I dunno, talking about genociding the entire fandom and, something I was thinking about a few days ago:

There's online sexual harassment, there's verbal assault, but then there's speech that to me basically constitutes virtual sexual assault. Like, when you're talking about sexually assaulting someone to their face. And what does the complete lack of moderation result in? People who otherwise wouldn't saying shit that is beneath them for the sake of attacking that person, because they should be attacked for saying shit like that!

But it wouldn't even come to that if there was some moderation. I wanted to say this a while ago. Now, if part of your reasoning is because you can't give anyone but a paragon of virtue any kind of power to ban people for anything but the most extreme reasons because they will abuse the everliving fuck out of it otherwise, I have to admit, I'm hard pressed for a rebuttal there because like I said, that has a lot to do with the animosity I inevitably begin to feel for any forum I join.

But there's something else that needs to be pointed out here. News sites increasingly just don't bother with comments sections. Because for the longest time, they couldn't be bothered with moderation either, but they also realized that a lot of what was being posted had no place on their platform.

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I don't care much if they do keep posting. My main concern is that later casual readers can scan over and see the better comments, without spending much time on those which almost all agree are a waste of time.

This is a deliberately high bar - we're more of a newsgroup than a moderated forum. If you want that, try the forums provided by FA, SoFurry, Furtopia, Phoenixed...

To a lesser extent, fading can also indicate mild disapproval among the community (and it allows them to express that disapproval without making another comment, if they wish).

People who want to argue with others are a long-standing part of our community, though, as noted in at least one famous image macro. Flayrah will continue to cater to them - and continue to offer the technical means to ignore them.

Those who refrain from doing so are likely to have higher karma, and so slightly less chance of being faded if they occasionally express a controversial opinion.

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Very good old chap! I understand what you mean and I am all for your system.
Now perhaps you could try and educate one of your furry friends (the one who thinks he is god's gift to South African furries and accuses me of trolling him here- I registered this account to defend my name but the Sonic crisis at the moment takes precedence) I'd be much obliged to you.

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Sadly, I fear the unceasing battle between dogs and hogs is more than a simple norn such as myself can resolve. But perhaps there will be a moment of detenté once the movie comes out where you can both be in agreement about something? :-)

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Touchè- his moment is coming too when Hollywood will tarnish his favourite fandom. Detective *cough* Pikachu

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We'll see. So far fans have been cautiously positive, once over the shock of seeing fur on a rodent.

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Yeah we will have to see I guess.

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People like that can't be educated. They don't want to be. And at a certain point in dealing with people like that you just gotta accept the possibility it might be beyond your capability to teach and/or theirs to learn. But at the same time I get it. If you have any kind of pride, obviously you want to defend yourself so it's like, you gotta let them go on for a bit and reveal enough about themselves/piss you off enough that when you gotta have the last word, you really fucking mean it when you say that's the last word for you and fuck whatever else they say from then on. Like to the point you don't even need the ignore button, basically. That's the ideal but of course it's there in the first place because we're not ideal and neither are these situations.

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I think you're really splitting hairs on the definition of forum for one thing, and if anything, newsgroups should hold themselves more accountable than the old school internet forums; a category to which all those examples you mentioned belong and which I no longer want anything to do with for all the reasons I just got done explaining earlier. And I can't be alone because barely anyone uses any of those forums anymore. That entire genre, medium or whatever you want to call it, is pretty much dead except for on the dark web somewhere. Well, there's KiwiFarms, but honestly, whatever that might've been originally, it's practically another StormFront now.

Now, I think partly where you're coming from is a personal responsibility standpoint, and I agree with that sentiment for the most part. But I just worry that combined with everything else, it might not matter at some point. You know, the point at which rational, intelligent people who give a damn decide it's not worth their time.

Or the point at which you approve articles that... Okay you know what, I'm not going to give the wrong people any ideas, because I know where at least some of the lines are. I just hope you do too.

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You're mistaking the comments for the content.

I mean, our editors are also pretty laissez faire about what gets on here, but there is a much stricter "moderation" of our articles than our comments; as a former editor who pals around with other former editors and current editors, I do know editorial decisions are made, and that mostly everything that is submitted is run. But just mostly, (and frequently not in the originally submitted form).

I mean, the comments are a giant cesspool, sure, but I'm not sure that's a problem, really. Doesn't seem to bother GR, either. I like to bag on him that his system is doing nothing, but he doesn't seem to care, and frankly, neither do I.

(This is probably the best defense GR has ever made of this system by the way, and even then it probably boils down to "this stuff doesn't matter much now, but the current system helps people avoid the stuff that really doesn't matter later".)

(Also, Flayrah does, believe it or not, have a moderator, and he has on occasion banned people.)

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In fairness, we could write more content. I actually have something I should write about, but there's One More Thing™ to do first (and that only once I've slept, because tired admin is bad even with checklists).

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I've got five or six ideas in mind for articles. Some I am working on and some need to wait for certain things to happen. I will do proper preparation and writing a bit later this week for those I can start with.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Not to split hairs myself but comments are a kind of content. I know the concept of "user generated content" really shook up the definition of content but like with "forum", in the most basic sense I think it works. It's a "contribution" from the users (using the word "contribution" extremely fucking cautiously obviously!) and I guess that concept still means a lot to me because there weren't a lot of ways for random internet users to contribute and have their voices heard by other random internet users back in the day.

I guess I'm becoming as skeptical of a laissez faire attitude towards online discussion as I am laissez faire capitalism because I don't like where either of those have gotten us. Not caring at all is no more reasonable than caring too much about the wrong things or even about the right things. Just because you don't see swimming in an online cesspool as a problem doesn't mean it isn't one. It being that way for years and only getting worse as the population of internet users increased is something I've always believed gave social media much of its appeal. It's hard to remember what exactly the buzz was like around that time but I remember people on TV, IRL, and even some of those old long-gone sites I used to frequent saying things to the affect that "the problem with the internet right now is it's still basically dominated by losers with no lives and normal people need to be made to just talk to people they already know online and not strangers".

That worked out wonderfully, didn't it? And I'm pretty sure GR has called me out here for contributing to some of the same shitting up of the place I'm pretty clearly against. And he's probably done it a few times on FAF and Weasyl if memory serves. And, who fuckin' knows, maybe he got through to me just by being polite and reasonable about it because people not giving a shit about being polite and reasonable is what eventually turned me into a 24/7 raging asshole on the internet (okay, it was a lot of other things too, and I will resent a hugbox as much as the next guy). So people need to be the change they want to see. But a lot of environments make that virtually impossible for a lot of people and it has a lot to do with why people up and leave.

I will admit though, if I could go back in time I'd spend more of it here than I did on FAF. Or even 2's old forum because unless something changed pretty drastically towards the end of that forum's run it was overall of much better quality from what little I can remember.

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I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing here. The majority of newsgroups - such as the fabled - a) existed before web-based forums (indeed, most before the Web itself), and b) were by default non-moderated, beyond what filtering you or your news server provider did - typically your ISP. (Corporate newsgroups could be an exception, and there's multi-part FAQs about cancel messages, but nonetheless...)

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I'm using the word "forum" in basically the most mainstream, general sense of the word. Like, I never made much if any use of anything "alt.something.something" because those were more or less on the way out by the time I began using the internet but I'd read archived stuff sometimes. What I started out on were just called "message boards" by most people and they were browser-based, but pretty much pure text, maybe a banner at the top of the page and maybe some kind of background image. I think FurNation's board might've essentially been like that but then I remember it being distinct in a few ways I can't quite recall. Then those started to die off around the time "forum software" became the in-thing and spawned all those still existing (if mostly lifeless) forums like, ugh, Phoenixed. It just occurred to me though, if FA is modified forum software, does that make it also a forum?

I only started using this definition recently though because, well, it's all just a series of initial posts and replies to those posts, and IMO those things all have more in common with each other than they do with social media. But even that could probably be considered a kind of forum in its own right. And I dunno, maybe it's just the end result of people telling me things like "forums never died, they just got replaced by social media and comments sections" and me finally kind of agreeing with them even if I, like a lot of people, lament what the medium has made the message become (The Medium Is The Message is a phrase of Canadian origin so you might not know it and its real meaning goes way beyond that though).

Admittedly though I'm not sure if YouTube counts as social media so the fuck do I really know.

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Then I wonder what was up the first time it happened since I'm pretty sure I didn't mention anything "only spammers do" then. But deleting everything but the first line seemed to work and the error message was the same as best I could tell. something-something slash-br. Okay so future reference, don't mention Lewy Vittun and what else is it that only spammers do?

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Mentioning any branded drug, fashion designer, accessories, payday loans or a "[web] cam" is usually a bad sign. ;-p

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Oh right, I was probably talking about my good friend Benny Drill. Also known by his stage name Diphenhydramine. Okay, well hey, maybe N-bombs and 3-letter F-words ought to be flagged too just in case it's not a noble free speech warrior dying on his mountainous molehill, but a nefarious supervillain trying to sell us British cigarettes and branded negroes?

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The question I need to ask today is, is this furry thing so mainstream now, that there's actually a place for "designer fursuit"

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On the catwalk, certainly!

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The original "marketing blunder" along with the apology is all a part of the marketing scheme of outrage and apology marketing. This is a real tactic that is actively used by companies, and it's shitty because people already have a hard time knowing who to trust and who to forgive.

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It's used in politics more than companies. This is be because you're only asking for a vote, which does not cost much.

Making a brand to make the buyer make a troll purchase could be a thing. But 6000 is a high cost for a troll buyer. I mean, it is far cheaper for a person trying to invoke negative emotions using a comment on YouTube or... Well here.

Since this brand has created negative emotions around the brand it will make it harder to sell. Remember someone has to wear this and deal with the emotions generated.

It is going to be difficult to sell these because of it. So if that was the goal to get attention, then it worked. If the goal was to sell the product then it probably won't be as effective.

There is one way to turn around the reputation generated which I went over in my video on this.

Increasing the price to 8000 and have 2000 go to charity. Furry culture is not adverse to financial success as much as it is against the concept of flaunting it to those that do not have it. If you refocus it to the message of using one's wealth to make things better for others.

It'll make the brand a badge of honor rather then pay to order prestige.

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The conspiracy theory about "they totally planned to make an apology and reap the attention" is really hard to buy when this isn't a company, it's just one person. They expressed uncertainty about getting their stuff out and hired one other person. Who yes, has a "guerilla marketing" Addy award... which has to be a pointless regional participation trophy, not national recognition. Elite agencies don't work on fandom shit with mere 4 figure budgets.

Meanwhile Twitter capitalizing on outrage is the real nefarious scheme. They design it into their site with the same science as getting users hooked on gambling machines. Outrage gets those wheels spinning like nothing else.

Congrats on falling for it by bashing a poorly-planned hobby project so hard, you'd think it was taking down a white collar criminal.

People have a hard time knowing who to trust and who to forgive because of that, not because a rich kid with an art degree tried to set up to use it, and got crucified by a mob for acting clueless.

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That was such an awful non-apology. "Oh it was all someone else who said those awful things, not me. Please ignore that I still tried to charge an indefensible amount of money for a premade, (incomplete) partial fursuit with my logo branded on the face so you can advertise for meeeee."

I seriously can't believe people are already doubling back on their outrage and forgiving someone who's trying to exploit the fandom. We have to kick people like this to the curb. Everyone forgiving AlbinoTopaz is pushing the door wide open for more people to follow in her footsteps. Even if she drops the insulting "luxury branding" ads, she's still following the same business model of making you pay more than twice the product's worth because you're paying for the brand name.

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AlbinoTopaz's suits already have a distinctive enough style that she could probably actually get herself to the level of the fursuit studios that kinda come as close as they can to "designer" brand - the highly-sought, recognizable designs whose commission slots sell for $10k+, that people refer to themself as an "[X Brand] fursuiter". Probably not if you're basing the company around pre-mades only, and the etching on the face is also a nonstarter. I think her main problem was being too explicit in saying what she wanted the company to be, lol

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"The Zweitesich brand name is a German compound word that means "second self" (zweite + Sich)"

In German, that'd be" zweites Ich", not zweite Sich

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That world be correct. Didn't split it out in the original copy, should have checked over the editing a bit closer.

This has been updated, thanks

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When I first saw the ad, I thought it was either a fashion brand's attempt to get into the furry business or a REALLY late April Fool's Day joke. Upon finding out it was an individual effort, my thought process was: "I'd never heard of this person before and there is no way I'll be doing business with them now."

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I think it might've been good to try and put this in a wider context. There was clearly a marketing error in this case but I do wonder what it really says about the furry fandom and how we approach new ways of doing things. Or at least different approaches to doing things.

From what I have heard about the history of fursuiting, fursuits were originally designed and made by their wearers. Some were good and others were... not so good. Fursuiting itself has become a professional aspect of the fandom, with more furs buying custom suits than making their own. I remember Kage talking about how that changed certain aspects of conventions. Fursuit competitions changed as the people winning were not those who were making their own but those who could commission the better fursuit builders.

Zweitesich also makes me think of another fursuit controversy, the bullying of a girl for wearing a maskimals head. You even brought that situation up in a discussion of classism. The furry fandom seems to have a narrow window that it is currently willing to tolerate in the furry fandom. Too elitist and it's not tolerated, too mass-produced and its not tolerated.

Fursuiting is not a static activity. The way it is perceived and practiced in the fandom has changed and is changing. Just as there is pushback to furry itself gaining mainstream acceptance, it might be interesting to talk to various furs to see if there could be a similar pushback to fursuiting having a lower entry bar and becoming more mainstream in the fandom.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Nope, no no no no.
You my friend are part of the problem. Don’t try and pretend you’re not part of it. You are balls deep into it. Yes sir, you get to rule over a chapter of a fandom 12,000km odd away from you and then you pitch up here with “From what I’ve seen”. You are really pretending here to be someone else, without realizing we see through you.
Pull the other one...

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There was clearly a marketing error in this case but I do wonder what it really says about the furry fandom and how we approach new ways of doing things. Or at least different approaches to doing things.

Like, the people expecting an apology and saying the one they got was a bad one?? Why on earth should she have apologized?? It was a swing and a miss, not like...a moral failing. lol

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Well maybe if more batters profusely apologized to their fans for getting strikes, the world would be a better place :P

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I fail to see the outrage.
Yes, the ad reminds me of the modern slick advertizing of the fashion or high-end cosmetic market mixed with (cough … fyre).

Let us step back for a bit. Perhaps it’s not Zweitesich fault but Zweitesich is reflecting what is happening in the fandom. Fursuiting has gone from homespun crafting to a status symbol. We already have our fashion houses; we see them hold court at our conventions, at exclusive Fursuit maker’s shoots. I see the negative results, Emma the Tiger incident is the most well know but there are others who were looked down because their home made fursuit had was not good or professional enough. I wonder if we, like the cosplay community, will have our divas, the one who are often off to the side at conventions just to be seen then complain on Facebook that nobody is sharing pictures others took of them.

To me there place for these professional maker s but we also need to go back to encouraging crafting in our fandom, even if it doesn’t look like a Zweitesich.

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