Print is enjoying an unexpected revival in some quarters of the UK, especially London, although it’s usually not the kind you pay for (to the dismay of many traditional publishers).
Scout isn’t an attempt to revitalise Baden-Powell’s Boy Scout movement but a free (or ‘freemium’ as it calls it) entertainment guide, aiming to gain a decent start in life from the expected tidal wave of visitors for this summer’s London Olympics. It will cover cinema, theatre, eating out and all the other good things that Londoners still manage to get up to in large numbers despite the dire UK economy.
Some free titles have prospered in the Uk for years, most notably Associated Newspapers’ giveaway morning newspaper Metro, now national but which began life on London’s Underground system. Associated sold its Evening Standard newspaper to Russian oligarch Lebedev after fighting a bloody battle with News International and its (now defunct) free newspaper thelondonpaper.
Undeterred, Lebedev made the Standard free, upped the circulation to close on a million and began to hoover up exactly the kind of advertising Scout seems to be aiming for.
Scout founder Jim Zambrano (pictured) says: “There’s so much going on in London, it’s very easy to be overwhelmed and miss out on the best that the city has to offer. Scout London condenses this long list of activities, events and happenings to highlight how Londoners should best spend their time and money. For visitors to the capital, Scout London will be the perfect handbook to the city, showing them how to make the most of their stay in the city and avoid the tourist traps.”
Scout will begin by distributing 125,000 copies each Tuesday. On the face of it this will scarcely make a dent in the Evening Standard but ShortList too began modestly and his since become a success despite wide initial scepticism among the media buying fraternity.