Hollinger divestment won’t have serious impact: buyers

National advertisers needn't worry themselves about Hollinger's decision to sell off a slew of its newspaper holdings - at least, not yet. That appears to be the consensus among planners at some of Canada's top media management firms....

National advertisers needn’t worry themselves about Hollinger’s decision to sell off a slew of its newspaper holdings – at least, not yet. That appears to be the consensus among planners at some of Canada’s top media management firms.

The Toronto-based newspaper owner announced plans April 25 to sell most of its community newspapers as well as some city papers, including The Kingston Whig-Standard and the St. Catharines Standard.

"There are some good things for advertisers," says David Cairns, president of Toronto-based media management firm Carat Cairns, of the announcement. "We might well be seeing a shift back to multi-ownership…which is probably good for competition and pricing in the marketplace."

He says as long as the National Post – the jewel in Hollinger’s media crown – is not affected, the sell-off should not have a serious impact on national advertisers. "Local community and smaller publications don’t tend to get a lot of national advertising anyway," says Cairns.

But Cairns wonders whether, down the line, Hollinger will continue to publish stand-alone dailies in markets such as Calgary or Edmonton, when it might be more cost-effective for the company to publish regional editions of the Post.

David Chung, president of Toronto-based MaxxMedia, says he doesn’t see any immediate impact on national advertisers as a result of the sell-off. But he predicts Hollinger’s planned segue into electronic media will have dramatic consequences, for both advertisers and the competition alike.

For his part, Mark Sherman, president of Toronto-based Media Experts, says it’s difficult to gauge the impact on advertisers until it’s known who’s buying.

"It’s possible that whoever buys these papers may be able to do more with them and make them more viable than Hollinger has," says Sherman. "Ultimately, a new owner would probably be a good thing."

The issue of media ownership is a hot topic of late, especially now that both Hollinger and Thomson Newspapers have put many of their assets on the block. Heritage Minister Sheila Copps recently promised a full-scale review of ownership and concentration regulations across all media.

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