Ad Exec Presents Newspaper 'Deprivation Study' Findings

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NEW ORLEANS ( -- Publishers today at the Newspaper Association of America convention here heard the results of a "newspaper deprivation study" that offered some insights as to what might make a successful branding campaign for the medium.

Abigail Hirschhorn, chief strategic officer for Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, New York, which paid for the study, delivered the findings in a presentation that veered close at times to being a business pitch. Ms. Hirschhorn said the idea behind the study was to track the attitudes of a group of inveterate newspaper readers who were paid not to read any papers for an entire week.

Deep bond
The results, Ms. Hirschhorn told NAA members,

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went to the heart of the deep bond newspapers share with their readers. "I felt like a whole week was missing," one participant in the survey said. (Those taking part in the survey were allowed to get their news from TV and the Internet).

Newspapers are "part of the familiar rituals that ground people every day," read one presentation slide. Among other findings, Ms. Hirschhorn said, was that news on the Internet was not fully satisfying, and that newspaper readers view their daily habit "with pride and accomplishment," which could presage ads flattering newspaper readers as a sort of self-selected elite.

'Marketing gold'
"From my perspective," Ms. Hirschhorn said, the findings "are marketing gold." But she made clear the industry faces serious challenges. The age of the average newspaper reader is 51, she said, and on-camera interviews with 20-something media planners reiterated the generations-old industry line that young readers are tuning out the medium.

"I wouldn't assume the under-35s know what you stand for," Ms. Hirschhorn cautioned her audience, suggesting branding campaigns that touch on some of the study's findings in consumer and trade media. "Who's to say a really, really good ad can't change their mind?"

Despite the self-promotional aspects of the presentation, it was well-received by some executives in the audience.

'Psychic benefits'
"Very interesting ... the idea of promoting the psychic benefits" of newspapers, said Jack Fuller, president of Tribune Co.'s publishing operations. Asked if such a notion had been heard many times before, Mr. Fuller said: "I haven't heard it enough."

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