September 8, 2011

Missed Opportunities: the new 52.

Now that DC’s New 52 are coming out (those are the 52 titles they’ve rebooted along with the DC Universe), I thought it was time to look at how DC marketed it- especially after reading this great post by Jill Pantozzi about DC’s presence at FanExpo in Canada). So far sales seem to be high, but since they’re all number 1’s, only time is going to tell how things are really faring.

I used to read comics regularly. I had a pull list and everything. Then, I had a kid and needed that extra bit of monthly budget for other things. So I’ve followed DC in the last few years, but haven’t bought any issues.

I’ve also talked about this before. The year long events were intimidating for new fans, especially since they all built on the one before. So I have been excited about the prospects for a reboot, and the chance to start fresh, as it was.

But the marketing has been spotty. When I was forwarded a “teaser” that would be showing in movie theaters, hyping the new 52, I was expecting something to entice non-comic books fans to return. Something with images from the new books that would say, “Comic’s Greatest Heroes, beloved by millions for decades. Get the chance to start a new journey with them, from the beginning. 52 titles. All starting at #1- available at your local comic book store on online the same day… The New DC Universe.” Instead, it was something clearly geared towards current fans, and didn’t give much information at all.

I expected to maybe see something on television, profiles in entertainment magazines, maybe? Instead, I saw nothing. All the interviews and hype were on websites that were already devoted to comic books. The only blogs I saw cover the new 52 that weren’t already covering comics… were LGBT blogs, discussing the LGBT characters that survived the reboot. There was no media penetration outside of areas that already cared about comic books.

Reading about DC’s sad presence at FanExpo is a bit baffling as well. DC should have been treating every single convention this year as a way to drum up excitement for the new 52, since the whole goal was to get new readers and increase sales.

Sadly, DiDio’s comment about FanExpo only highlights what the problem is: “Well, this is the last week of the old DCU. We’ll let it have its last hurrah before we start the new stuff next week.’” Even when they should be looking forward, DC is still looking backwards. (If you didn’t read the linked article, they had promotional stuff from 2009 at FanExpo for that “last hurrah”)

There has been a lot that’s excited me about the reboot- integrating Wildstorm? Justice League Dark? I loved the idea about starting from the beginning. However, since most of the costume redesigns have been more throwback than a chance to start anew, I have been concerned. (All they’re missing are a few pockets, pouches and head scarfs to be straight out of the “extreme” 90’s) If the marketing team seems more interested in promoting the old than the new, it doesn’t really seem as though DC understands why their readership has fallen over the years at all.

DC, the times they are a changin’. You need to find marketing people that aren’t afraid to tell you the truth- because the less of your own hype that you believe, the better chance you have of seeing where you should be headed. Trust me- adding a bunch of extra lines to a costume, or giving someone pants isn’t a magic solution. Your marketing team should have been asking people why they stopped reading your comics. Or asking people who read indie comics exclusively why they aren’t buying your issues. You should have looked at the demographics to see where you were missing readers and tried to fill those voids.

You don’t gain readership by advertising to the exact same audience you already have. You continue to build by appealing to kids, and making DC a brand that parents feel comfortable buying for their kids- both boys and girls. Those kids will grow up and start their kids reading DC- just like most of your parents or someone older did for you at some point in time, I’m sure. And honestly, stop treating women differently than men. Believe it or not, we have varying tastes, just like your male readers. I know, it’s crazy.

But keep trying, DC. I really believe you can do it.

Your thoughts? Do you think DC can change, or are they doomed to fail? For that matter, have you read any of the new 52 and really liked what you saw?

Tagged with: , , , , ,