Tuesday, November 25, 2008

DFC into Tescos....

The DFC, the subscription only comic featuring some of the best in British cartoonists and doing it’s best to bring back a love of comics to a new generation is 6 months old this week. I'll be cross posting various articles and other things all about the DFC here and at the FPI blog this week.

But to kick it off; major news:

It seems we're not the only ones celebrating the 6 month mark for the DFC with issue 26 this week. Word is getting out, Sara McIntyre first and now Dave Shelton, Laura Howell, Jim Medway and finally the DFC website itself has the news:

For one week only The DFC will be available in Tesco stores around the country! This is a great chance for your friends try a copy of The DFC before subscribing, for a special, one-time only, promotional price of £1.99!

From Wednesday 26th November to Tues 2nd December, Tesco will be selling Issue 26 of The DFC!
It will have a cover exclusive to Tesco, so look out for it!
And tell your friends to look out for it too!


I can see the reasoning behind doing a marketing push in somewhere like Tescos. The pester factor for comics is incredibly strong for parents and I know I'd always rather buy Molly a comic than sweets when I'm in that position. And David Fickling has an awful lot of pull in literary circles to get this one going.

But there are a couple of problems to this.

Problem #1:
Have you seen the comic racks in Tescos? Most are in bags, all have some sort of free givaway/toy on the cover and tend to just overflow into one messy, amorphous mess.
Solution #1:
Given that the DFC already has links with the Guardian, I'm really hoping that when I go in I see a big free standing display right next to the newspapers. Noticeable to children and grown ups. I know if I saw it there I'd look at it and be impressed that there was a comic out there that wasn't so obviously commercial and didn't depend on some plastic tat on the cover to sell to my child.

Problem #2:
Tesco. Obviously it's been chosen because it's the place that we spend a ridiculous amount of money in as a country. We may not like Tesco all that much (I know I don't) but if you had to pick one place to do a one week marketing push, there's no better place in terms of the number of punters than Tescos.
Solution #2:
Nope, there is no solution to this one. Tesco is Tesco. Huge is bad for many things in retail, stifling the market, creating a monoculture, destroying smaller towns etc etc. But it's good for the DFC.

I'm sure there are many other things you can think of, but that's my immediate response to it. I do know that it will tempt me to wander into Tesco and take photos to see how they pull it off.

Obviously I really hope it works. But as for what they're trying to achieve from it? I honestly don't know. The subscription only model for the DFC is unique and frustrating in a number of ways, causing problems getting the comic into the hands of those most likely to enjoy it, making it difficult to get hold of. But it's benefits are obvious; primarily that it drives costs right down with no need for a massive and wasteful overprinting that is necessary for news-stand distribution with it's sale or return policy. But the move to Tesco, whilst opening up the comic to many millions more children and grown ups, would mean taking the financial risk that news-stand distribution carrys. I'm sure time will tell. If it's a toe-dipping exercise or possibly just a special marketing push. Whatever happens, I have nothing but best wishes for this endeavour and hope that this week of increased exposure really does the trick.

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