When is The Beano not The Beano?
When it’s Beano – the official web site.
Yes, it’s a terrible joke, but not as terrible as the bemusing lack of any obvious presence for the print edition of The Beano on the brand’s official website, beano.com.
By that I should explain that there is a definite Beano presence on the site – the content is fun, intended to appeal to its core audience (although it isn’t working for every reader, apparently). There are plenty of online comics to read and the whole site has a distinctly impish Beano vibe in the spirit of its recent revamp.
It’s clear the team at Beano Studios have worked hard to make it a “destination point”.
But I’m very puzzled that there’s no obvious link to the comic that spawned all this tomfoolery. Certainly no mention on the front page, promoting the latest edition; not even an image of the current cover, although if you “drill down”, you will find subscription links.
And the explanation (so far) for this bewildering lack, sales of the comic, surely, an obvious means to help fund the web site’s costs? Well, via Twitter, I got this response a couple of weeks back…
I held off from running any comment on this for a couple of weeks after this exchange, although a number of comic creators were as puzzled by it as I was. As someone who has been involved in promoting comics online, and digital comics for some years now, I’m conscious there’s a period of “bedding in” as regards a web site’s look. The Beano.com site has only had a makeover recently, to incorporate the new “Beano” branding. Changing things, especially core design, can sometimes take longer than you might think, and any major changes might also be dependent on budgets.
But the site still isn’t promoting Beano comic (although a link to the Beano shop seems more obvious than when I last looked), and neither have the Beano‘s Facebook or Twitter pushed title in recent weeks, and I have to confess, after the debacle that was The Dandy web site, which replaced the print comic, I’m a tad concerned there’s something awry here.
Back when The Dandy‘s print edition ended and the comic moved online, there was a huge optimism that it would prove a success. It wasn’t – the “Digital Dandy” did not last long, although the web site survived until late 2015. Today, typing in Dandy.com just takes you to a dedicated Dandy store front on the DC Thomson web site.
There’s no doubt that the Beano brand (and web site) is being promoted by Beano Studios, as you can see from this typical tweet below.
— Beano (@BeanoOfficial) October 24, 2016
So promoting the Beano web site seems fine on official social media, but not the comic. But, surely sales of the comic helps cover the cost of the web site?
There might of course be an explanation, of sorts, in the Beano.com’s stated ethos within its “Parent Zone” – that it is a free site, and any offered apps will be free, with no in-app charges.
Could it simply be that because Beano comic isn’t free, the site runners are reluctant to promote it in any major way, other than obliquely?
“Building Brand” in this way make no sense to me, and not to rival publishers, either. Even though the Beano.com site format emulates that of a rival title from Egmont UK, pushing its digital content over the comic, the TOXIC web site at least has a plug for the current issue on its front page.
Other children’s publishers, too, have no qualms about making as much digital noise as possible about their comics, from Panini UK and Titan Comics to 2000AD and The Phoenix (some, admittedly, better at it than others).
As another commentator on this matter pointed out, it could indeed be that Beano Studios has simply decided to deliver content on the website to market the brand, as oppossed to the physical comic.
“It’s a well proven method of increasing sales,” they suggested. “If the item is widely available in newsagents, they don’t need to sell it online.
“However to not have a ‘latest issue’ page or at least a banner on the homepage does seem a bit insane.”
DC Thomson has, in all the time I have worked in the comics industry, done a lot that’s right to preserve its brands, and adapt them as times have changed. But we all want the Beano comic to survive, not just the brand, and promoting it online is surely an important aspect of ensuring this, along with the ongoing (and extensive) retailer-directed promotions such as free gifts, end of aisle displays in supermarkets and box out dump bins for special issues.
I hope this current incarnation of the site isn’t a bit of a misstep and that down the line, those running the Beano web site will do more to promote the print edition, because none of us wants what happened to The Dandy to happen to the Beano comic.
Beano © DC Thomson/ Beano Studios