Globe returns to ABC

After a 15-year absence, The Globe and Mail is rejoining the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of The Globe, made the announcement at the Canadian Media Directors' Council annual conference in Toronto, April 5. Crawley revealed The...

After a 15-year absence, The Globe and Mail is rejoining the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of The Globe, made the announcement at the Canadian Media Directors’ Council annual conference in Toronto, April 5.

Crawley revealed The Globe’s intentions a mere week after the release of a favourable NADbank readership study and just prior to a keynote address by Conrad Black, chairman and CEO of Hollinger International, owner of upstart competitor the National Post.

In his address, Crawley said that while he still has concerns over the ABC’s circulation measurement criteria – despite recent changes – he felt The Globe could no longer avoid the pressure from the media buying community to rejoin the Bureau.

‘I have decided to argue from the inside rather than criticize from the outside,’ he said, ‘so I will be asking ABC to audit The Globe and Mail for the current six-month period ending Sept. 30.’

Crawley added that rejoining the ABC was ‘a big decision to make and we thought long and hard about it. We’re doing it from a position of strength and confidence…We just feel this enables us to have a voice as things go forward.’

Reaction from the industry was positive. Sunni Boot, president of Optimedia Canada, says she’s extremely pleased that The Globe has rejoined ABC, because it allows media planners and buyers to assess all the major Toronto papers using a consistent measure.

Bob White, senior vice-president of ABC, was understandably delighted: ‘I am a happy guy and I welcome them with open arms.’

Crawley says that although he’s not happy with the ABC’s current definition of paid circulation, it does look as though it will become the standard, since ABC in the U.S. is considering a similar change. The new definition came into force in Canada in 1998, replacing a measurement method that had been in place since 1914.

The old definition limited papers to reporting circulation as ‘paid’ only if it was sold for 50% or more of the publication’s cover price.

Under the revised guidelines, a newspaper’s total circulation is segmented into four categories: paid circulation at 50% or more of the cover price; paid circulation at less than 50% of the cover price; bulk circulation or copies sold in bulk to airlines or hotels for distribution to customers; and non-paid circulation.

Arguing that the relaxation of the ABC reporting rules has ‘devalued the currency’ of newspaper circulation numbers, Crawley says it has also cost the industry many millions of dollars in circulation revenue. Those with the deepest pockets, he maintains, can afford to market themselves at a deeply discounted price, at the expense of their competitors.

Not surprisingly, Crawley saved his most stinging criticism for the National Post: ‘Clearly, [discounts] have been the foundation for their rapid circulation growth.’

Crawley says The Globe will continue to do an independent audit in addition to the ABC’s, something that is quite common with large U.S. newspapers. For the past 15 years, the paper has been audited by KPMG.

The Toronto Star is also audited by two different bodies, ABC and the Canadian Circulations Audit Board.

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