Free! Ducks of Scandinavia wallchart!

Well, it makes a change from DVDs in stupid cardboard sleeves

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The Guardian are giving away free wallcharts again. I was suspicious of the first batch in May. The actual charts themselves seemed oddly reprinted and murky, and the garden birds one featured birds that are simply not common to British gardens (the linnet anyone?), while missing some really obvious ones out (where was my lovely nuthatch?). This, it turned out, is because the charts are produced by a Danish company, and make no claims to be about British anything. Clearly, the Guardian have done some kind of deal with The Scandinavian Fishing Yearbook (the curious name of the company – they started out producing just that in 1955, but moved into educational wallcharts and lithographs, now CD-ROMs) – the newspaper get the free gifts, the company get a free plug. I can mither all I like – and I’m about to – but it worked. The Guardian was the only quality daily to increase both its month-on-month and year-on-year circulation in “a steady market” in May. They shifted 381,188 copies a day, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (a “month-on-month” rise of 1.76% – oh how such figures suck the life out of me: a grim flashback to the days at Q when I had to worry myself sick about such pathetic increments). During the week of the wallchart giveaway, sales were up by 130,000 in total, which averaged out at an extra 3,000 copies a day across the month. Hence: batch two.

Typet
This is what they look like if you buy them. All the Guardian does is add the newspaper’s logo and redo the heading in their own typeface

Guess what, today’s wallchart, Birds of Sea and Shore, is no better than the garden birds one. The illustrations still look like they’ve been colour-photocopied (unless the originals are just as washed-out, in which case, good luck if you’re thinking of sending off and paying nine-Euros-plus-shipping for one) and the spread of birds is skewed towards the Arctic.

There’s no Lapwing, one of our most common waders. No Canada goose, again one of our most common geese. They’ve spelt Greylag as Grey lag (clearly the poster was not subbed by a birdwatcher). The Pochard pictured is a speckled-looking female (good luck spotting the more distinct adult male, with its beautiful chestnut brown head and pale back and flanks). The only breed of swan is the Whooper swan. The only Eider is the Steller’s eider, found in … Scandinavia (no sign of, say, the Common eider – clue’s in the name). The Long-tailed duck, the Velvet scoter, the White-fronted goose, all breed in the tundra or the Baltic. And if there’s one thing anyone who’s seen the super-common Mallard will tell you, is that it has a rich, velvety green head; not on this wallchart, where it looks black. Not much sign of the green head of the male Shoveler either. Green is obviously a very tricky colour to reproduce. (I know I’m nitpicking. I enjoy it. If you feel my nitpicking is in any way inaccurate, please nitpick back. We could start a nitpicking club.)

Still, it makes a change from free DVDs in stupid cardboard covers. There’s no such thing as a free anything. If somebody’s giving it to you, it’s not free. There’s a catch. In this case, it’s a clever way of making you “sample” (that’s what the marketing people say) a newspaper you presumably don’t usually buy. Now, I happen to think that the Guardian is a very good newspaper, the best in fact, but I wish it didn’t have to play the dirty game of free gifts. Shouldn’t the quality of the journalism and comment be enough? (I know, what a happy bubble I live in.) At the end of the day, these wallcharts are not much good. They’re dated-looking, geographically irrelevent and muddy. But, hey, say the Guardian, they’re free! So stop complaining!

A disclaimer now appears on the charts, which I don’t believe was there the last time: “This is a selection of species and not a definitive collection. It may include species that are not or no longer indigenous to Britain.” I hope the schoolchildren read that when it gets blu-tacked up in the classroom.

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30 thoughts on “Free! Ducks of Scandinavia wallchart!

  1. Pictures of birds have got to beat the Independent’s various glossy statistic-based maps. Cue the inevitable nit-picking from readers: actually Germany recycles 86% of its tin cans, rather than the 83% claimed. Having worked on a computer system for a newspaper wholesaler I know that there’s VAT to pay on “free” DVDs; do these wallcharts escape that I wonder?

  2. Pictures of birds have got to beat the Independent’s various glossy statistic-based maps. Cue the inevitable nit-picking from readers: actually Germany recycles 86% of its tin cans, rather than the 83% claimed. Having worked on a computer system for a newspaper wholesaler I know that there’s VAT to pay on “free” DVDs; do these wallcharts escape that I wonder?

  3. The one good thing about “theguardian” (as I believe they like to be known these days) DVD and CD giveaways, is that they have given away some rather good films and gubbins. “The Wicker Man” and “Super-size Me” were among the recent ones.As I know from your Sunday paper review with the Mighty Herring you no longer read “The Observer”, would you like me to save you tomorrow’s wall chart?

  4. The one good thing about “theguardian” (as I believe they like to be known these days) DVD and CD giveaways, is that they have given away some rather good films and gubbins. “The Wicker Man” and “Super-size Me” were among the recent ones.As I know from your Sunday paper review with the Mighty Herring you no longer read “The Observer”, would you like me to save you tomorrow’s wall chart?

  5. I think the problem with these is they are produced to a (very) low price. As someone with 20 years in the print and print finishing trade it is fairly low rent stuff .The paper is pretty low quality, so the print quality is poor as well. Even the folding on my copy was rubbish, not up to the standard I would be required to produce where I work.Anyway the actual Newspaper is still the best on the market, never mind the width, feel the quality!Ian

  6. I think the problem with these is they are produced to a (very) low price. As someone with 20 years in the print and print finishing trade it is fairly low rent stuff .The paper is pretty low quality, so the print quality is poor as well. Even the folding on my copy was rubbish, not up to the standard I would be required to produce where I work.Anyway the actual Newspaper is still the best on the market, never mind the width, feel the quality!Ian

  7. Has the wall chart got the weird Mandarin-type ducks I see when I go to feed the ducks in the park? I hate the geese (“Ford was against all forms of cruelty to all animals, except geese”), but I love the ducks, and the cute coots and moorhens with their big clumsy feet.It’s so soothing to watch the water fowl swimming about, whilst marvelling at the effort their little legs go to to propel them along, whilst maintaining such a calm above-surface image…

  8. Has the wall chart got the weird Mandarin-type ducks I see when I go to feed the ducks in the park? I hate the geese (“Ford was against all forms of cruelty to all animals, except geese”), but I love the ducks, and the cute coots and moorhens with their big clumsy feet.It’s so soothing to watch the water fowl swimming about, whilst marvelling at the effort their little legs go to to propel them along, whilst maintaining such a calm above-surface image…

  9. No Mandarin, Prudence. And no Coots or Moorhen either, which are abundant round our way too. (The wallchart gets worse and worse with further examination!) I love geese. There are Egyptian geese on the island in the lake in Priory Park in Reigate. A treat to behold.

  10. No Mandarin, Prudence. And no Coots or Moorhen either, which are abundant round our way too. (The wallchart gets worse and worse with further examination!) I love geese. There are Egyptian geese on the island in the lake in Priory Park in Reigate. A treat to behold.

  11. We have loads of Canada geese. They are noisy and greedy and steal the food from the poor little ducks.I looked up pictures of Egyptian geese. They’re a bit special, aren’t they? One of the images was of lots of dead ones which had been shot as game, which was a bit sad.

  12. We have loads of Canada geese. They are noisy and greedy and steal the food from the poor little ducks.I looked up pictures of Egyptian geese. They’re a bit special, aren’t they? One of the images was of lots of dead ones which had been shot as game, which was a bit sad.

  13. It’s amazing how ducks and geese in ponds seem to thrive on bread. Bread is not good for ducks and geese. People throw it with the best intentions (I’ve done it), but it’s really not ideal food for wildfowl, especially not the shitty white stuff we eat. And yet, they thrive! (The Egyptian geese in Priory Park live on the island, but it’s close enough to the shore to be able to observe them. Their markings are beautiful. What are they doing in Surrey? Did they come for the bread?)

  14. It’s amazing how ducks and geese in ponds seem to thrive on bread. Bread is not good for ducks and geese. People throw it with the best intentions (I’ve done it), but it’s really not ideal food for wildfowl, especially not the shitty white stuff we eat. And yet, they thrive! (The Egyptian geese in Priory Park live on the island, but it’s close enough to the shore to be able to observe them. Their markings are beautiful. What are they doing in Surrey? Did they come for the bread?)

  15. Quite right that someone is taking a stand against this invading Viking wildlife, I think. (Though I was quite enjoying the wallcharts actually, but I’m so ignorant about wildlife they could probably put an elk on there and I wouldn’t notice.)But I think Half Man Half Biscuit would disagree with you about the linnet.

  16. Quite right that someone is taking a stand against this invading Viking wildlife, I think. (Though I was quite enjoying the wallcharts actually, but I’m so ignorant about wildlife they could probably put an elk on there and I wouldn’t notice.)But I think Half Man Half Biscuit would disagree with you about the linnet.

  17. Has anybody worked out how much wallspace you would need if you were actually going to put the wretched things up. They are a pathetic waste of print and paper, and do nothing to bolster the Guardian’s green credentials.

  18. Has anybody worked out how much wallspace you would need if you were actually going to put the wretched things up. They are a pathetic waste of print and paper, and do nothing to bolster the Guardian’s green credentials.

  19. Just found this site while looking to buy a set of the damn things for someone for Christmas. Do you know how much the guardian wants for a set of six (farm animals and crops)? £18.99. Someone at Guardian Towers is having a laugh. At my expense.

  20. Just found this site while looking to buy a set of the damn things for someone for Christmas. Do you know how much the guardian wants for a set of six (farm animals and crops)? £18.99. Someone at Guardian Towers is having a laugh. At my expense.

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