The daily newspaper as delivery vehicle

To say the use of daily newspapers to deliver anything but news and print advertising is underdeveloped in Canada is to state the obvious.Only a handful of publishers have warmed to the idea that dailies can deliver a lot more than...

To say the use of daily newspapers to deliver anything but news and print advertising is underdeveloped in Canada is to state the obvious.

Only a handful of publishers have warmed to the idea that dailies can deliver a lot more than supermarket flyers or advertorial supplements.

Among this handful, The Star-Phoenix in Saskatoon is prominent.

Will deliver anything

Wayne Wohlberg, circulation marketing manager for the Sifton family-owned paper, says the Star-Phoenix will try to deliver anything, using the daily as the vehicle.

As a result, Wohlberg says, the Star-Phoenix has carried hand lotions, hair sprays, dog food, breakfast cereal and information kits for local politicians, among other items, although he is quick to point out the paper does not polybag anything.

He says if a product sample will not fit into the paper as an insert, carriers deliver them to subscribers along with the newspaper.

‘Sometimes, [some items] do not go inside the [paper,]‘ Wohlberg says.

‘Sometimes, we may have to bundle these packages up and deliver them to the carriers prior to actually getting the papers to them,’ he says, noting the additional cost of using this method is passed along to the advertisers.

Wohlberg says the Star-Phoenix began positioning itself as a delivery vehicle about 10 years ago, recalling one of the first – and most successful – deliveries the paper carried out was for a local car dealer.

Each subscriber got a key with his or her paper as an inducement to visit the auto showroom since one of the keys fit a new car that the lucky keyholder could keep.

Several advantages

Wohlberg says the advantages of using a newspaper as a delivery vehicle for products other than the news and print ads are several.

He says the first of these is a quicker response than Canada Post.

He says the Star-Phoenix brags if it promises a delivery on a particular day, that delivery is carried out – no mean feat considering the often contrary Saskatchewan weather.

Also, Wohlberg says the Star-Phoenix can verify the delivery of samples.

Further scrutiny

He says once the verification is done, this list can be turned over to the advertiser for further scrutiny.

According to Wohlberg, another advantage of using dailies is the client relationship that is built up.

‘What we’re trying to do is build that whole client relationship so that we can come to an advertiser and handle all their work, right from the production of the newspaper ad through to the distribution on their behalf,’ he says.

‘We will deliver a product to a specific group of customers for [the advertiser,] or we will do a target [market] for them.’.

Enjoy samples

Wohlberg says the paper gets lots of calls from consumers who actually enjoy getting samples with their newspaper, although there are, inevitably, some subscribers who do not want anything but their daily paper delivered to them.

Peter Baillie, advertising director for The Calgary Herald, feels, like Wohlberg, that dailies have some distinct advantages as a sample delivery vehicle.

For example, says Baillie, it is hard to get the reach of daily newspapers from any other medium, or to target a product sample quite so accurately.

A natural fit

Also, he says, daily newspapers and some product samples – such as breakfast cereal – are a natural fit.

Baillie says that unlike the Star-Phoenix and the Regina Leader Post – also owned by the Sifton family – The Calgary Herald had not spent a great deal of energy promoting itself as a delivery vehicle for anything else but the news and print ads.

He says the Southam-owned paper agreed to deliver samples of Kellogg’s Cruncheroo cereal a couple of years ago because ‘it was just a neat project.’

However, since the Cruncheroo delivery, that-not-quite-formal approach has been readjusted and the Herald has taken to delivering discount coupons and other items regularly.

Baillie says wrapped around home-delivered papers is a rubber band. And, attached to the rubber band are coupons or contest entry forms in the form of oversized breadbag tags.

Tag coupons

A couple of recent tags the Herald carried were from Mr. Lube, offering a $3 discount on an oil change and filter, plus free jugs of bug wash, and $5 discount coupons for the Ginger Beef Peking House Chinese restaurant.

Baillie says the money the Herald produces from samples and the coupons is ‘gravy’ at this point, but with print advertising being attacked from all sides by its competitors, this revenue stream will become increasingly important.

System not in place

Sandy Muir, director of marketing, newspapers, at Southam, says the company is set up at the moment to deliver newspapers, but not much else.

Muir says any decision to increase the Southam papers’ delivery capability depends on potential profit, the impact on the delivery of the paper itself, and avoiding alienating the papers’ subscriber base.

He says it also becomes a strategic decision: ‘Is this a business we should be in?’

Muir says Southam is trying to answer this question by having an executive examine all aspects of the daily newspaper as delivery vehicle.

Scott Lawrence, marketing manager for Netmedia Enterprises in Mississauga, Ont., places samples, catalogues and flyers in newspapers for such clients as Ikea, Consumers Distributing, Lever Bros. and Kellogg.

Also dailies

Although Netmedia uses weekly papers to deliver 90% of its clients’ messages, Lawrence says he also uses the Star-Phoenix, the Leader Post, the Kamloops Daily News in b.c. and Ontario’s Sault Ste. Marie Star as well.

Lawrence says he sees no downside for the householder when dailies deliver samples or catalogues, but thinks, with some exceptions, most newspapers have yet to pursue the delivery vehicle option.