Monday, May 21, 2007

I've I didn't know better, I'd say they were breeding

I spent much of the afternoon wandering through various bits of the London borough of Camden. I didn't meet any picturesque nutters or have long chats with eccentrics, which is just fine by me. However I did notice one disturbing trend.

Now anyone who's spent more than five minutes in central London of an afternoon will have noticed the hordes of brightly dressed types handing out, well more forcibly impressing onto you, various free evening 'newspapers'. But now they're spreading outwards. I saw loads of The London Paper (I'm not playing their pointless lower case games, do they real imagine that hip, young types are scared by a few capital letters on the masthead?) hawkers trying to give copies away to the various Japanese students, teenage Italian goths and terminal alcoholics you find washing round Camden town. That's pretty desperate, thought I. I carried on my wanderings.

Later I saw them again (presumably another crowd of paper pushers) targeting people outside Swiss Cottage, Finchley Road and West Hampstead stations. When you consider almost everyone they met there at six in the evening will likely have passed through central London - and therefore had to literally push past a vast array of free paper people, and had ample chances to pick up discarded copies on the tube - you must concede they're really desperate if they are hoping that people who have, unaccountably, passed up their earlier opportunity to pick up a free paper will miraculously change their minds and think 'Why, yes. I think a fix of The London Paper will, after all, make my journey home more pleasant'.

It's the Mrs Doyle school of marketing. G'wan, g'wan, g'wan, g'wan, g'wan, g'wan, g'wan... repeated until your will is crushed and you take one anyway. It strongly suggests (more than easily rigged figures) the rag isn't getting enough people to pick it up, read it and therefore convince advertisers they've got a great space to sell stuff to people.

Now I'm not an expert but... no, hang on, I actually know something about this. For all the money and effort spent in an attempt to force every single person in greater London to take a copy of the thing, there's precious little money spent on actual, you know, journalism that people might want to read.

Even the most vacuous and brain-dead Londoner will quickly tire of the pathetic, bite-sized, anodyne news and features content. Their eyes will glaze over, making them utterly unreceptive to the 'buy this, it's really great' bits which, presumably, the paper needs to survive. And so the management will start ever more desperate attempts to hand out the paper in the hope that sheer weight of people clutching the thing will someone cancel out this problem in the eyes of the advertisers.

Remember, London will never be free until the last pigeon is strangled with the last copy of The London Paper.

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Blogger Quink said...

Bollocks. People will continue to pick the free papers up to avoid making eye contact with anyone on the tube. Or, if crowded, they'll use the things to fan themselves with.

Anyway, the thinner the content the quicker the punters get on to the ads. And when the trains break down, they'll read them a lot more closely than any other type of ad.

Murdoch knows what he's doing. And boosting up the circulation of the londonpaper to higher levels that Associated's London Lite will put him, in the medium term, in a position to challenge the whole London market - SubStandard included.

9:52 pm  

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