In days gone by, papers were sold by plastering a big scoop on the front page. This morning I have¬†witnessed¬†a far more efficient way of selling papers.
Give away a free Lego kit.
This morning I wandered into WHSmiths with my head hung low in shame, prepared to lie that it was for my little brother, with the intention of buying a copy of the Sun for the sole purpose of getting the free Lego kit offered on the front page.
It soon became clear that I was not the only one. ¬†A queue formed from the till to half way down the shop in the quiet Wimbledon store, everyone lined up clutching their copies of the Sun. ¬†After a brief chat with the woman in front of me who was most definitely not a Sun reader, it was clear that this had been a daily¬†occurrence while the offer had been running with parents and grandparents being sent out¬†¬†to pick these kits up, but this was not what made my shame¬†disappear. ¬†These were after all devoted parents looking out for their young charges.
What made my shame vanish utterly were the people buying bundles of papers to get more kits. ¬†An overheard conversation going on behind me revealed the snippet “oh, I see you decided to stop at 20 today” as more boxes of free Lego kits were frantically opened by till staff. ¬†I half expected to see a mountain of discarded papers immediately outside the shop.
The Sun newspaper is on to something here. ¬†This offer must have boosted their daily sales by a huge amount. ¬†As a journalist, it is slightly worrying that a free plastic toy can pull more readers than hard journalistic graft, this is slightly worrying.
Of course, can free Lego really be such a bad thing?