Annual promos help add value

Advertisers are unlikely - and often unwilling - to spend their budget with one vehicle, no matter the media's dominance in the market.Oshawa/Whitby This Week (circ. 77,000), a suburban Toronto community newspaper, realized in the early 1980s that by offering added...

Advertisers are unlikely – and often unwilling – to spend their budget with one vehicle, no matter the media’s dominance in the market.

Oshawa/Whitby This Week (circ. 77,000), a suburban Toronto community newspaper, realized in the early 1980s that by offering added value, it could encourage more advertising from customers.

An early example is a deal the three-times-a-week newspaper struck with the regional shopping mall to organize and promote an autoshow.

The result was a 28-page supplement and an enhanced relationship with car makers, dealers and the mall.

Full slate

The success of this project led to what is now a full slate of annual promotions appealing to targetted groups of advertisers and readers.

One of these, which is typical of the newspaper’s approach, is the ‘Bridal Event of the Year,’ now in its fourth year.

The grounds of a local estate are transformed into an elegant setting for wedding-related clients to display their products and participate in a fashion show.

The residence was home to Sam McLaughlin, founder of General Motors of Canada, and is surrounded by formal gardens on its six-acre site.

An enormous reflecting pool complete with fountains and a winding staircase forms the backdrop for the largest bridal showcase east of Toronto.

A 24-page supplement is distributed just before the event giving advertisers mass market reach and a highly motivated audience.

Show promoters are now approaching us with ideas for co-sponsorship as they realize the marketing and distribution ability we can bring to the table.

By packaging extensive pre-promotion (editorial and run-of-press advertising), a mass distributed show program, advertorials and follow-up coverage, clients are assured of great value.

House promos

House promotions begin running at least six weeks before the event and list co-sponsors and ticket information.

As clients buy into the section, they are given tickets to sell from their business and are added as a ticket outlet to all upcoming promos.

The added publicity spreads the value for our customers over several weeks as brides-to-be drop by the shops to pick up tickets.

As well, these clients build enthusiasm for the show by displaying newspaper-supplied posters in their windows.

Highlights and an agenda are added to the newspaper ads as the date approaches with newspaper space costs kept to a minimum by using unsold space.

A variety of sizes are prepared, often with teasers pointing to the main promo.

The final push comes from the kick-off supplement.

Quarter-page ad

All participating companies get a minimum one-quarter-page ad in the Sunday-before section, often with editorial mention of their product or service.

With a press-run of 77,000, the Bridal Event supplement provides extensive coverage of the market for all participants and acts as a planning guide for prospective brides.

Door receipts cover the majority of show expenses (we have found an admission charge increases the perceived value as well as limits tire-kickers), however admission prices are set with maximum attendance as the goal.

Advertising sales representatives for the newspaper organize the many details including booth space, electrical requirements and refreshments.

It is a team effort, with every department at the newspaper involved.

Recent successes have included financial shows at tax time, parenting, fishing, home renovation, pool and spa, fitness, seniors and careers.

This Week’s real estate department co-sponsors first-time home buyer seminars, with the local homebuilders’ association picking up the cost of speakers and the auditorium.

New clients

By offering more than run-of-press advertising space, we have attracted new clients and business that previously went elsewhere.

Existing customers see us as providing additional services, which has resulted in printing and distribution work.

When we are looking for growth opportunities, there is no business like show business.

Bruce Danford is advertising manager at Oshawa/Whitby This Week, a Metroland community newspaper.