Both The Beano and The Dandy have now been given away in a Sunday newspaper, The Dandy in July 2011 and The Beano last month.
I'm going to compare the two promotional comics, staring with The Dandy. It was given away in July 2011 inside the Sunday Post and was 32 pages thick and printed on the same quality paper as the weekly - so was no different in style to the regular comic. With the possible exception of the Harry Hill strip (and the "filler" pages) this giveaway is entirely reprint from Dandy strips published after the 2010 revamp (more about that here). This isn't really too much of an issue as the comic is trying to gain the title new readers anyway, who won't have seen the content but for any fans of the comic it is a bit of a let down (but hey, it's free and not aimed at us, so we can't really complain).
One thing The Dandy freebie was missing was a discount or special offer to encourage new readers to hop aboard. Sure, it had the 15 issues for £15 subscription offer (which really was good value for money), but the offer was available to regular weekly readers as well, so nothing exclusive.
Moving on to The Beano, that was 32 pages so unlike The Dandy equivalent is thinner than the regular comic. However, it does feature all new content that focuses around the main story that was running in The Beano - Gnasher going missing after stealing a dinosaur bone. The content is one continuous story with all the characters working around this main storyline. It seems very well pieced together in this way; even the bounty hunter with his eye patch and grey goatee was drawn the same way by two different artists on two different strips (David Sutherland on The Bash Street Kids and Wayne Thompson on Roger the Dodger).
Unlike The Dandy, The Beano did offer a special discount to encourage new readers, allowing them to buy the next issue for £1 - 50% off. They also offered a fantastic offer for subscriptions - 15 issues for just £10!
It's good that the story arc wouldn't confuse any new readers too, as the free comic explains it all, so the whole project was very well thought out. Whereas I'm sure the Dandy was a minor success the comic didn't last long afterwards I can't speak much for the future of The Beano at present, but the results of this free issue are promising, with it been reported that sales increased by 25% and that there are 1,400 new subscribers, so very good news indeed!
Here's the report on the results of the free Beano by D.C Thomson: