Let the newspaper battle rage on

Someone, somewhere, must be having a good giggle over the latest NADbank numbers from the Toronto Fall Readership Study, released just over a week ago. If you recall, last fall when the first-ever NADbank study including National Post readership data was...

Someone, somewhere, must be having a good giggle over the latest NADbank numbers from the Toronto Fall Readership Study, released just over a week ago. If you recall, last fall when the first-ever NADbank study including National Post readership data was released, a good number of media buyers chose to hold their assessments over who was winning the Great Newspaper War in abeyance. Wait until the spring, they said, as the numbers released then would tell the true story about which paper was winning the encroachment battle.

Now that the spring numbers for the all-important Toronto market have been released, and it looks like The Globe and Mail has regained whatever ground it lost to the Post last year, media buyers are still saying we’ll have to wait and see. Seems they’re still a little skeptical about the dailies’ distribution strategies, which plainly rely more than just a little on free and nearly-free copy hand-outs. Sounds prudent enough, but could it be that the media buyers have a little play going on themselves? After all, what good would it do them or their clients to declare a winner in this latest pulpy battle, or any other for that matter?

If nothing else, the latest NADbank study paints a picture of a fickle audience that appears to be more than willing to shift its devotions at the drop of a hat. Just take a peek at the most recent numbers for The Toronto Sun. And, though that may be frustrating for planners who are looking to include newspaper in their long-range media strategies, it certainly keeps everyone on their toes. As long as there’s no clear-cut winner in this ongoing saga, every daily newspaper published in Canada’s largest market is put in the position of having to go out and woo readers every single day with innovative editorial packages and good service and value propositions. For advertisers, and their media buyers, it means they can continue to demand creativity and flexibility from whatever paper they happen to be dealing with, with a reasonable expectation that their demands will be met.

With that in mind, it makes absolute sense for buyers to not do anything that may possibly lead to a détente in the bloodless skirmish taking place on the Canadian daily newspaper front. The longer it lasts, the longer advertisers will benefit from dealing with oh-so-accommodating newspaper media properties – pretty good news for a lot of people in the advertising business.

Let the battle rage on!

David Bosworth


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