Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Free crap versus loyalty in the newspaper world

Newspapers have really stepped up their promotional schedule in the last few weeks. But is anything that they have given away worth having?

Last week the Mail on Sunday gave away DVD of a new unreleased film that probably would have done no business at the cinema. Therefore the distributors probably gambled that they would make more money from what the Mail paid them and the marketing they put behind it. Ultimately a crap film is still a crap film even when it is free! Did anyone watch it and if they did did they finish it?

The Times this week were giving away a real first, free REM iTunes tracks to help promote their new live album. The only problem with this is that half the tracks are some of their best music and any self respecting music fan would already have them. Who wants a live album anyway, they’re rarely as good as the original versions and REM have had better days. Nice idea but where’s the value apart from for REM’s record company’s marketing department?

The Mail on Sunday have given away a best of Robbie Williams CD this week, again to support the release of his new album. But again if you wanted his best music wouldn’t you already have it by now? So the Mail are happily being the main platform of the record company’s marketing campaign and 95% of the CD’s will never get played. How does the consumer benefit?

For all the instant sales that these promotions may gain the promiscuous readers that take these up will jump paper for the next freebie next week so where’s the marketing value?

The way forward for newspaper promotions and partnerships surely has to be The Times’ new loyalty scheme Times+. This imaginative scheme rewards loyal readers on a long term basis with exclusive content, offers, prizes and money can’t buy events like meeting The Times’ journalists. This is surely the way that all newspapers should be approaching promotions in the future, no free crap, no free marketing for fallen pop stars or terrible films but actually thinking about what a loyal reader wants and rewarding them.

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