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Thoughts on TV Advertising of Comics

Don MacPherson has an interesting post looking at Radical Comics’ new comic book, Incarnate, which is written by Gene Simmons’ son, Nick, and was promoted on the Simmons family reality show, Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels, as well as on A&E’s website.


You totally broke the CBR frontpage with this post. At least, the CSBG links are borked.

This is really more cross promotion than straight advertising. I’d also be wary of the the cameras following them to San Diego. Will it be like most news reports of conventions, where most of the footage is of the costume wearing minority?

In any event, the real problem is that any such advertising doesn’t help people find the comic books. It might help steer fans of the show who are already comics buyers to pick up Incarnate, but it won’t generate new readership.

I think TV ads for comics are a great idea. The old animated GI Joe comic ads are what got me into comics to begin with. And way too much money later, here I still am. I have to think there’s quite a few people back in the 80s that at least bought comics for a while as a result of those ads.

I really doubt that the margins are there to support straight TV ads for comics. This is cross-promotion with a reality show. Maybe someone at DC could talk Judd Winnick into doing the next season of “The Duel” or “The Inferno”.

I’m not sure if TV advertising has really been tried. Buffy’s doing well just by dint of having been on TV, but this is a comic that, like Brian Hibbs was talking about last week, would be in the 5K-10K run if it wasn’t for a celebrity connection. Can TV exposure bring people to a LCS? I guess people will find out.

Alvin (locomambo)

July 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm

TV promo, cross- promo, straight TV adds for comics probably not but I grew up on KISS and Gene Simmons and as far as I can tell this is just what the guy does, we got this so let’s put a logo on it, we’ll put it out there and make a buck, besides who wouldn’t help their kid if they could, Genes written his own comics, KISS has been in many comics, I’m sure Gene is proud of his son and grinning ear to ear looking at Nicks work. Gene is about promotion and he has an outlet so he uses it. I’m sure we are in for pictures of Gene & Nick surrounded by Slave Girl Leahs very soon. Rock On Simmons clan Rock On!

I think it will work, i.e. help Nick sell his first issue. So it’s good, but it won’t help with issue 2 or 3, unless they keep pushing it (and it’s actually good!). And that’s because the general public still thinks of comics as an investment; so Nick’s first artwork, first story and first book — all being packaged as a Number #1 issue — is going to generate a lot of Buzz among his fans and speculators.

Remember… (and we all know this) the General Public still thinks of comics as an inverstment, and they feel that if they buy a comic today, it’s going to be worth a Million Dollars! tomorrow. Talk about a ponzi scheme.

But I’m pretty sure that TV exposure is not going to save the industry; at the very best they just help sell that particular issue. And only if there is perceived future value to it. You know, like a lotery ticket.

Case in point:

1- The Death of Superman (it just helped sell issues of Superman 75)
2- Spidey’s Black Costume (it’s new, it’s important, it’s PERMANENT!)
3- Spidey’s Marriage! (see above!)
3- Captain America’s death (see all of the above!)
4- Obama on Spidey
5- Stephen Colbert on Spidey
6- Flash and Green Lantern’s Brave and the Bold, as seen on Lost and perceived to be important to the Polar Bears subplot.

Etc, etc, etc.

Even the GI Joe’s commercials were something of a mark’s hook. “Get Destro’s first appearance at Marvel Comics before he’s gone!” “Buy Serpentor’s first comic and get rich… one day!” ;)


July 21, 2009 at 9:02 am

I’m right there with you jazzbo. Those GI Joe commercials were incredibly cool!
I too often wonder how many people got into comics through the GI Joe commercials and toys.

I believe I’ve heard that G.I. Joe was the first comic book ever advertised on TV. Hey, that sounds like a good subject for a Legends Revealed segment!

I’ve seen commercials for the local comics shop around here. It’s pretty well-done–it shows the store, gives the address and phone number, offers a discount if the commercial is mentioned, uses DC superheroes. It’s going for the right demographic, too; I have seen it several times during adult swim. Considering I usually have to do work to find a comic shop, it seems a success.

Didn’t Malibu run ads for the Ultraverse on MTV?

The fact is that TV commercial time is extremely expensive. They were probably able to do it for GI Joe because Hasbro picked up at least part of the cost because the comic itself was advertisement for the toys. Comics by themselves don’t make enough money to justify the cost of national TV commercials. Heck it would probably cost them less to drop the print ads from the comics.

As for comics shops, it’s not really feasible in urban areas. It could work in smaller towns and with local TV stations, but in a place like New York it’s too expensive because your ad is reaching people in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Long Island. We don’t even get much coverage of local politics here.

Carl, just to clarify, you are thinking national commercials; and yes, they can be expensive. But the ones Dan is talking about aren’t. They are just air time bought by the local shop through the local cable provider. They are not that expensive because you are only reaching a particular set of cable subscribers. Like say… the Comcast subscribers; but not the Adelphia or Cox Cable demographic. Get my drift?

And I do think they reach can reach large urban areas; or at least I feel that the ones that ran in Washington DC and Miami (while I was living there) did.

As far as the effectiveness of commercials go, a successful commercial just gets you to sample the product. That’s it. Fans remember the GI Joe commercials fondly because they are fans. They worked on them because they like the medium. It’s in their blood. In fact, I think they are borned and not made. I don’t think that commercials are going “to turn” consumers into fans unless they are “genetically predisposed” to… not only like them, but also put up with all the baggage that comes with this ever expensive, ever shrinking medium. :D

Yeah, I mean what Ricky is talking about.

Bart: “Who watches TV at two A. M.?”
Homer: “Drunks, the unemployable, angry loners.”

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