Newspapers Billed as 'Multi-Medium'

At NAA: Martin Agency Creates Futuristic Industry Ad Campaign

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LAS VEGAS -- The newspaper industry spent $75 million last year on an ad campaign to convince would-be advertisers that the ads on their papers and websites were "a destination, not a distraction," the idea being advertisers would realize newspaper readers actually liked ads and, realizing that, would stop fleeing to other media.
A newspaper reader of the future is hooked up to a bevy of satellite dishes, computer keyboards, monitors and wires.
A newspaper reader of the future is hooked up to a bevy of satellite dishes, computer keyboards, monitors and wires.

The transformation story
Another year of circulation and advertising declines later, the industry is recasting its pitch -- this time, selling newspapers as "the multi-medium," in a campaign unveiled here at the Newspaper Association of America's Annual Marketing Conference -- and boosting its spending.

"I expect we're going to spend even more," said Mort Goldstrom, the NAA's VP-advertising. "We want to tell the story of the transformation that's going on here."

That transformation, as the campaign from the Martin Agency tells it, is the story of how newspapers have morphed from big clumps of newsprint to cutting-edge media consisting of websites, podcasts and e-mails.

"People don't read newspapers the way they used to," reads an early piece of print creative. "For that matter, they don't listen to music the way they used to. Or drink water the same way. Or even cast votes the way they did 20 years ago."

No more retro
To make the point, one piece of early print creative features a newspaper reader of the future, hooked up to a bevy of satellite dishes, computer keyboards, monitors and wires. It's a marked departure from the whimsical retro look of last year's ads, also by Martin.

Media buyers and planners would be well-advised to get used to that pitch, because, like last year, the campaign will also include ad-sales materials that many papers adopted as their own last year. (Beginning in April, the ads will begin running in both general-market publications such as USA Today and trades such as Ad Age.)

In it for the long run
Mr. Goldstrom said last year's campaign drew 150,000 unique visitors to its website, trained 20,000 sales representatives to give presentations based on NAA research, and was exposed to more than 100 million adults.

But what remains unclear, he said, was whether it sold more ads, although the continuing struggles of many publishers perhaps suggests otherwise.

"We never anticipated this initiative turning this around in a single year," he said. "This is a long-term play we're in here."
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