Category Archives: Promotion

It’s just very sad

I don’t have it in me as the sun sets this Friday for a fresh rant about the $4-million well-intentioned but wrong-headed newspapers-are-alive-and-kicking campaign engineered by the New York Press Association. I said my piece on Feb. 23 (Hey, Opie — in New York, the newspapers think it’s the 1950s. Let’s put our pop in a sack and ride the Chevy to the levy and gaze at the stars) and on Feb. 18 (Promoting the walking dead).

[UPDATE: Click the Feb. 23 link and scroll to the bottom to read fresh comments posted March 31 through April 2.]

Today, Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish on the Atlantic put this ad from the campaign under a “Creepy Ad Watch” headline.

Sullivan quoted Copyranter:

New York City residents, your local papers want you to know that, while, yes they may be mortally wounded by digital news sources and even stupid blogs that break the big stories before they can, they’re not going down without passive-aggressively making you feel guilty as hell about their demise. That “Told ya” is just so preciously fucking childish.

And Lindsay Beyerstein on BigThink said this:

Print is officially dead. I held out hope longer than most, but I knew it was all over yesterday when this ad appeared at my New York City subway stop. …

This ad perfectly distills the ineptness of the newspaper industry. An unidentified group of managers at community papers pooled their last remaining dollars to hire an advertising agency to build a campaign around the idea of “Nobody loves us, but we told you so.” The money they spent guilt-tripping their readership could have funded coverage said readers actually care about.

Click on Coney Media’s Feb. 23 post to see the other ads in this series.

Campaigning for British readers

With circulation and ad revenues tanking industry-wide, some might think that Rupert Murdoch’s English Sun — along with the rest of the newspaper industry — is setting.

But Murdoch’s News International won’t slither quietly into the night, and is putting up a fight — using its marketing heft to stick a finger in the dike and block the outward flow of readers and fetch some more.

MediaWeek UK reports that the tabloid Sun is coupling a new ad campaign promoting its star columnists with a price drop — from 30p to 20p — in a key market area:

Rob Painter, marketing director for The Sun, said: “At The Sun we pride ourselves on investing in great writing talent that sets us apart from the crowd.

“By showcasing our columnists in this way, we can remind readers of the fantastic market-leading content they get every day in The Sun, for only 20p.”

In the most recent quarter, News International parent company News Corp reported that its UK newspaper group —  which includes The Sun, The Times, News of the World and other properties — saw circulation revenues fall five percent on flat ad revenues.

At The Sun — News International’s most popular newspaper — circulation dropped 3.6 percent to 2,972,763 in its February audit, MediaWeek said.

RERUN: Here’s The Sun’s we’re-better-than-the-Internet commercial from last year:

Hey, Opie — in New York, the newspapers think it’s the 1950s. Let’s put our pop in a sack and ride the Chevy to the levee and gaze at the stars.

The NY State Press Association is distributing six ads in its campaign to resurrect the fortunes of its member newspapers. MAYBE these ads — all attractively composed by Korey Kay & Partners — will click in rural Upstate, but they won’t wash in ANY urban area, especially New York City.

As I reported last week, this is a well-meaning effort by a well-meaning organization. Too bad it doesn’t work.

This trooper’s not NYPD, the highway is pure rural (maybe even desert-like), the car’s nothing like the Minis, minivans and SUVs that populate the urban landscape. And we all know how youngsters in Brooklyn and the Bronx pine for the coming of the carnival in that big lot at the far end of town. Holy cow!

A pickup truck in a lake is as pure a New York City as can be conjured, and its newspapers are great “advocates for change” — change, like building new bridges (over troubled waters) and more highways. (I am joking!) As for those broken sidewalks, most city weeklies gave up that kind of advocacy years ago (although a few — the Brooklyn Star with its filthy lot of the week photo — comes to mind).

These last two have possibilities. Some New York City weeklies actually respect military service and still use those Army press releases as filler; others would never use them. Beyond that, coverage of “boys making good” in the military or elsewhere is rare in the New York City press. The one ad that clicks — meaning it’s “feel good” and harmless — is the last one, “Community news. Un-decaffeinated.” Using a quiticential quintessential New York City image — the Greek diner coffee cup — is a nice touch.

— Ed Weintrob

Promoting the walking dead

The New York Press Association will soon launch an advertising and public relations campaign “to combat the doom and gloom swirling around the newspaper industry and to position community newspapers as a strong, growing medium.”

“No medium delivers the loyal, local, repeat audience delivered by New York’s community newspapers and their affiliated Web sites,” NYPA Executive Director Michelle Rea said in an e-mail inviting publishers to preview the campaign in the deluxe Downtown Brooklyn offices of NewsCorp’s Community Newspaper Group.

The news business can benefit from bold promotions, and the NYPA and Ms. Rea — often wise and always well-meaning — merit our applause for their efforts.

The campaign, which plans to launch on March 1, will have professional luster and reach. Ms. Rea says NYPA’s 800 or so member newspapers will be asked to run the ads, which will also be used in a “four-week transit campaign with railroad platform posters and transit in-car cards on the LIRR, MetroNorth, Amtrak; subway platform posters in Queens and Brooklyn, in-station kiosks, and bus exteriors in Upstate cities” She said that a follow-up phase will include mobile billboards and radio.

A great mix, as long as it goes beyond the doctored numbers and wishful thinking currently displayed on the NYPA’s Web site.

• • •

The industry’s magic bullet might not be porn, as suggested in Jonathan Mann’s satirical short, “Saving Newspapers, The Musical” (although it is an embarrassing fact that quite a few newspapers on the industry’s margins — including some NYPA memvbers — have come to depend on ads with headlines like “Horny Local Girls,” “Nasty Girls” and “Heavenly Touch” for essential cash flow).

But in any event, salvation will not be brought about through continued self-delusion wrapped in ridiculous assertions and easily discounted vapor-stats.

So, as we anticipate next month’s NYPA ads — produced by the NYPA with Korey Kay & Parners and PR man Nicholas Lence — let’s glance at the “homemade” ads currently on the NYPA Web site.

Some of these ads are so over-the-top and shockingly bad that I found my point-by-point critiques of them simply belabored the obvious and therefore removed them from this post.

Instead, I encourage you to consider them on your own. If you think the questionably attributed statistics in these ads meet the promotional smell and, more importantly, if you believe these ads, I have a homework assignment for you: Engage in a 10 minute daily reality check by following the RSS feeds on the right side of this page, linking to blogs Romenesko, Newsosaur, Jeff Jarvis, and more.

(Please remember, though, that these are not the ads created for the upcoming campaign. Hope does spring eternal.)

Take one:

Take two:

Take three:

Take four:

• • •

There is some concern that the NYPA campaign will not aggressively address the migration of the “newspaper business” onto the Web. This would be a costly omission.

Publishers need to acknowledge what everyone else knows: the print end of the business will, in most cases, go away. Newspapers — most of them — are the walking dead.

So … when publishers promote the benefits remaining in print, they need to also promote the benefits offered by their businesses’ online and multi-media products.

As Michelle Rea put it in her memo, “No medium delivers the loyal, local, repeat audience delivered by New York’s community newspapers and their affiliated Web sites” (emphasis added).

If publishers have nothing of value to peddle online, that’s another story — and the crux of a crisis facing the news industry today.                        —Ed Weintrob