DC Thomson Streams UK first with bespoke Broons

By Sarah Cosgrove, Monday 14 September 2015

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The Sunday Post newspaper ran a special £10,000 competition in a comic strip insert featuring the paper’s popular characters The Broons. Individual codes were printed in each of 210,000 copies of the Sunday Post’s supplement magazine iN10. As well as the codes, different endings to the story were printed for the 500 winners.

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How was it produced?

Publisher DC Thomson’s print arm Discovery Print installed a Kodak Prosper S-Series Imprinting System printhead on one of its Goss newspaper presses in January. This gives the company the ability to produce tailored marketing and advertising using uniquely printed numbers, barcodes, QR codes or graphics.

The Stream heads can produce a billion droplets of ink per second, enabling unique text and graphics to be applied to individual pages without slowing the litho press, which operates at a speed of up to 90,000 copies per hour.

Head of operations (newspapers) Guy Forester said: “While most of the cartoon strip was printed litho, the last two frames were printed using the Stream system, which is integrated into our offset litho newspaper press. Each copy also carried a unique reference number.” 

The comic strip insert was then stitched into the magazine.

What challenges were overcome?

According to Forester the job was “a genuine team effort with editorial, our writers, artists and graphic designers working alongside colleagues in operations, production, marketing, advertising and enterprise to create this imaginative reader offer”. 

He added: “We’re one of only two newspaper printers in the UK with this technology, so as far as I’m aware The Broons cartoon strip is the first ever variable data strip that has been produced in the UK newspaper marketplace.”

What was the feedback?

“The Kodak Stream printheads offer exciting new capabilities and fresh ways to engage our readers and advertisers. It seemed to go down well so we’re lining up our next challenge,” said Forester. 

The company has since used the technology in its Big Kick Off magazine where it printed 30,000 copies with unique names, numbers and codes on pictures of footballers’ shirts. 

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