Stop the presses: Dailies are changing

Karen Sayed and Fiona Gallagher are, respectively, associate media director and senior vice-president, media director, with TN Media in Toronto. If that old adage 'Change is good' really is true, then this must be a great time for newspapers. Not...

Karen Sayed and Fiona Gallagher are, respectively, associate media director and senior vice-president, media director, with TN Media in Toronto.

If that old adage ‘Change is good’ really is true, then this must be a great time for newspapers. Not only are publications experiencing significant changes within their own medium – they are also confronting the enormous changes that have affected all media.

Within the newspaper arena, we have seen the debut of a major new competitor on the national level, which in turn has led many existing papers to refocus their efforts. At the same time, we have witnessed the advent of online technology, which – among many other things – has opened up new options for delivering and receiving news.

Newspaper today just isn’t the same medium we grew up with.

The ways in which both consumers and advertisers use papers are changing. And it stands to reason that the old ways of selling the medium no longer apply, either.

When the National Post arrived on the scene, it very quickly became a force, particularly in the business press arena. No longer can the players in this category enjoy the luxury of simply acting as order-takers.

This spells good news for advertisers interested in a business audience.

Last summer, for example, our client TD Green Line set about relaunching under the new name TD Waterhouse. Business newspaper was, obviously, the ideal medium for promoting the relaunch: It was targeted, and offered flexibility with respect to the start date – a key factor in this situation. And, if you agree that the medium is the message, then newspaper advertising clearly heightened the ‘newsworthiness’ of the whole initiative.

The challenge was finding a way to break through, in the busy environment of the business pages, and communicate clearly the new TSE symbol for the TD Waterhouse brand – TWE. To this end, TN Media briefed all of the major dailies and gave them carte blanche to propose impact units and/or positionings suited to this kind of launch.

It was the National Post that came up with the concept of stock page shadowing, whereby the ‘TWE’ symbol would be shaded in green into the actual stock listings. Coupled with a banner ad carefully positioned at the bottom of the same page, this would immediately communicate all the information potential investors needed to participate in the public offering.

The idea was mocked up and taken to the client, who embraced it wholeheartedly. Other dailies were then asked if they could incorporate it into their own proposals, and they quickly agreed. Clearly, the ‘can-do’ attitude promoted by the Post is creating opportunities for advertisers to make more creative use of the newspaper medium.

Indeed, whether you attribute it to competitive pressures or the impact of new media, newspapers have become increasingly willing to depart from the tried and true.

Recently, for example, we attempted to purchase space in a major daily to support TD Bank loan products. Our parameters included positioning within the automotive section. We believe that the positioning of our ads is an important component in the value equation, and one of the keys to ensuring the effectiveness of our clients’ campaigns. We also believe that the environment is one of the major strengths of the newspaper medium – something that papers should be leveraging to attract advertisers.

We were therefore understandably surprised when the newspaper in question informed us that, as a matter of policy, the automotive section was reserved exclusively for car dealership advertisers.

TN Media challenged the policy, encouraging the paper to consider the larger purpose of the section: to provide an information resource that helps readers make informed car purchase decisions. Clearly, our client’s message would work to that end.

In the past, it is quite likely that the newspaper would have been unbending in its policy. But in a marketplace where readers can gather information from so many new sources, and advertisers have such a wide range of new vehicles for reaching their targets, inflexibility just isn’t an option anymore. The paper agreed that it was time to rethink its policies, and positioned our ad in the requested section.

The multi-faceted changes that newspapers are experiencing have an effect on everything we do in the medium. We are continuing to push the boundaries, and the newspapers are responding.

Certainly we believe that change is good. It is encouraging the development of exciting new strategies and solutions – and that’s good for all of us.

Also in this report:

- Launch of Post good news for advertisers: Upstart daily has jump-started the industry, prompting offers of better rates, bonus ads and new loyalty programs p.NP3

- Picture perfect: It’s obvious that visually driven creative works well in newspaper. So why don’t more advertisers use it? p.NP5

- Telcos reward readers with a laugh: MTT and Bell Mobility employ unusual formats to nab attention p.NP6

- Savingumoney.com builds awareness offline: Coupon portal uses newspapers as linchpin of media strategy p.NP7

- Cadillac takes the long view: Used frequency of newspaper creatively by telling a different story every week p.NP10

- Edmonton Journal: Time for a change: Daily goes for a facelift p.NP10

- Whistler taps fast turnaround times: Newspaper lets ski resort react quickly to changing circumstances p.NP13

- Talvest co-brands funds with FP Index: Helped Montreal financial services provider to crack Ontario market p.NP14

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group