Saturday, June 25, 2011

More thoughts on DC's cunning new marketing strategy

I am referring to the one that says they will are targeting 18-34 yera old males.

In terms of what this means for me personally, and my reading habits, I'm not actually too bothered.  Ok, I am still sad about Teen Titans and Supergirl, but so far it looks like that from September  I am going to have 18 titles on my pull list, up from 15 (excluding the Flashpoint titles).  So you know, this reboot/relaunch has worked for me, as I will now be getting more titles.  I mean, I like a lot of things that the average 18-34 yr old male does - explosions, testostorone heavy films, cock rock, actions scenes.  I'm happy to have those stories (and with titles like The Savage Hawkman I'm sure I will be getting those in abundance).

The things that does irk me, is that, as James so elquoently put it, targeting this particular demographic probably means the emphasis will be on sex and violence.  Now this won't neccessarily mean bad stories, (ok this is coming from the woman who loved the whole ethos and art in the Guy Gardner - Warrior series), but it probably does mean that these types of stories will be told at the expense of other stories.  That saddens me.

As for the lack of imagination in who they are targeting, well, I think women, people of colour, LGBT people, will continue to buy the titles.  Even those folk searching for diversity and depth in their comics (and perhaps not finding it).  Because we are used to seeing cultural products that don't represent us, and it's just something we have to put up with.

In moral terms, this doesn't mean that DC shouldn't bother putting out products catering to/targeting/including 'minority' groups, but it will make a better story/universe if they do.  Sometimes, the only way to make sure you are more diverse in your output is to consciously think about how you can achieve it.  It doesn't always come naturally.  The reduction in women led titles, for example, demonstrates this.

On the other hand, Mr Terrific, Static, Blue beetle, Young Justice, The Fury of Firestorm, JLA and Aquaman are all either being led by (male) characters of colour or have CoCs with prominent roles.  Then there's Batwoman leading her title and I presume Amanda waller will be prominent in SAuicide Squad.  That's more than we got now.

The other thing that is bothering me about this relaunch is that I don't so much think that the reason your average Joe doesn't buy comics is because they think they are only for teenage boys, it's because they just don't know about them.  Most people barely know what they are, especially superhero titles.

The way to get more people buying your comics is not to target the same demographic you always have, but to tell more people, in general, about them.  DCWomenKickingAss has for months been saying that DC and Marvel should give away comics to girl scouts.  She's got a good point.  If people don't know about your product, they won't buy it.  If people don't know ways in to your product, they won't buy it.  If they don;t knwo where to buy your product, they won't buy it.  Those spotlight columns now appearing in the back of DC's monthlies are really good, and a great way to promote your back catalogue.  But it's preaching to the converted.  Part of the fault lies with comic shops too - retailers need to get out there and promote themselves more, but then again, how rich are most comic shops?

I wonder how skint DC is an organisation.  I wonder if they can only afford to market towards one group, and they've chosen the easy one as the cheapest and most efficient (in the short term) one.  Pushing their comics to a brand new audience, making new people aware that they exist, will be a long term, expensive process.  Which is sods law really, because if DC don't start bringing in new fans they are going to be, as an industry, fucked.


SallyP said...

You really do have to wonder some times. Apparently DC's strategy, is...we're marketing to this specific crowd, and are losing sales. So let's market to the exact SAME crowd...more! Oh, and screw those other people who might be interested.

Eyz said...

US mainstream comic book have to wonder...
They should aim various types of audiences...not try to get 'em all at once.
It's not a problem a book sells only 100 000 copies and not more. It's always 100 000 copies sold that "no copies" at all. Try to make various genres for various audiences!