Campaign: Viz uses birthday party to reinvigorate status

Campaign Viz’s 25th-anniversary celebrations Client Dennis Publishing PR team Taylor Herring Communications Timescale September-November 2004 Budget Undisclosed

Dennis Publishing hired Taylor Herring Communications to help its adult comic Viz celebrate its silver anniversary and restore its status and pop-ularity.

Boasting 25 years of toilet gags, top tips and readers’ letters, the magazine’s popularity peaked in 1991 with a readership of 1.2 million, but sales have since slumped to around 125,000 copies a month.

Objectives

To make Viz famous again and remind the public that the comic is a British cultural institution. To drive sales of the Viz 25th-anniversary issue by generating features around the book, 25 Years of Viz.

To create a celebratory party that would attract sponsors and ensure positive media coverage.

Strategy and Plan

To emphasise the quality of the writing, artwork and humour of Viz, Taylor Herring put forward some of the comic’s major characters for ‘interview’. Meanwhile, figures such as Sid the Sexist, Johnny Fartpants and Biffa Bacon featured in an eight-page fashion spread in Maxim magazine.

Other activities included creating exclusive cartoons for celebrity fan columnists, such as Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. This was backed by joint Viz editors Graham Dury and Simon Thorp appearing on radio, TV and in print, talking about the history of the comic.

The PR team then created a media stunt around the release and general panning of the Fat Slags film in October. To underline that the comic had no creative input to the film, Viz first claimed it had dropped the Fat Slags characters from its magazine, then reinstated the duo for its next issue.

On 27 October, a 25th-anniversary party was held at London’s Café de Paris, hosted by Nicholas Parsons. Highlights included live wrestling in a full-sized ring. Taylor Herring also secured sponsorship from Red Stripe – Viz characters’ favourite alcoholic beverage – and satellite comedy channel UKTV G2.

Measurement and Evaluation

Feature coverage included pieces in The Sunday Times Culture magazine, the News of The World, The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Times, the Daily Mirror, The Star, Loaded and Arena. Meanwhile, the Fat Slags appeared in a piece titled ‘How We Met’ in The Independent on Sunday and Metro spoke to Roger Mellie in its ‘60 Second Interview’ section.

Broadcast interest came from such programmes and stations as Newsnight, Richard & Judy and ITN, as well as Virgin Radio. The campaign also generated more than 40 items of internet coverage on websites such as chortles.com.

Results

More than 500 people attended the party, generating further media coverage from the likes of The Evening Standard, the Daily Mirror, The Observer, ITN and Sky News.

Daily Mirror showbiz columnist Sam Mann says Taylor Herring successfully built up excitement around the bash over several weeks. ‘Because people such as Peter Stringfellow attended [the party] and had to decide on the door whether to pick up an “A-list” or “D-list” celebrity badge, the party also meant there was plenty of stuff I could have a laugh writing about,’ she says.

In its first week on the newsstands, the 25th-anniversary edition showed a 25 per cent increase in sales. Viz’s latest annual is a top-ten consumer bestseller and 25 Years of Viz has sold more than 10,500 copies to date.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.