Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Ad Review: On the wagon but still off target.

In the latest round of their current ad campaign, the SJ-R is forsaking the early morning imbibers who were the focus of the previous installment for those who partake in a more traditional breakfast fare while perusing their trusted daily. The Toast and Jam ad is very similar to some billboards that Meijer was running a year or so ago to cross promote their groceries with their general merchandise line. Both name a familiar pair of items and a picture that provides a nanosecond of dissonance when it reveals that the second of the two items isn’t what you thought (i.e., “fruit and nuts” with a picture that shows apples and nuts of the hardware variety.)


I don’t know if people find these ads clever, I suspect that they might be better at selling produce and hardware than newspaper subscriptions. But what the SJ-R’s ads clearly fail to do is to sell the paper based on its competitive advantage over other news sources. Local newspapers’ fiercest competition these days comes from the Internet, so much so that some are predicting the ultimate demise of traditional broadsheets and tabloids. This prognosis is premature at best, but it does point out the need for newspapers to sell themselves more effectively.

The SJ-R should, rather than promote itself with cute and catchy phrases, sell its coverage of local issues, coverage that is more in-depth and more inclusive than can be found anywhere else. Radio and television also offer daily local content, but not to the extent that the newspaper does, and many news broadcasts are so similar to that day’s SJ-R that you can almost hear the newspaper crinkling in the background as the anchor thumbs through the pages for the next story.

There are many features of the newspaper that could be effectively promoted in their advertising. Highlight some of the more compelling in-depth stories that have run recently. Promote the editorial page as a venue for public discourse (only don’t call it public discourse.) Elevate the profile of columnists. The New York Times recently began charging for online access to their columnists, suggesting not only the popularity of their work but also their ability to provide a strong connection between the paper and its readers. The Toast and Jam ad does feature a picture of the Arts and Entertainment supplement, a section of the newspaper that is strong in respect to local content. But no where in the ad does it promote it’s coverage of the local scene.

As far as the current campaign, it wants to appeal to people’s desire for convenience. A rolled-up newspaper that faithfully appears on the porch each morning and can be read in the carefree early morning hours while sipping a cup of joe or chewing on a bagel certainly paints a desirable picture, for some. Getting up early to enjoy some time before the day turns hectic is a lifestyle choice that has probably been ingrained in a person since their younger days when they would watch their parents pass sections of the paper back and forth over the kitchen table. These folks, and I count myself among them, already subscribe.

But what of those whose lifestyle dictates that they rise with time enough only to grab a quick shower before speeding off to work. Their newspaper will most likely still be sitting on the porch, succumbing to the early stages of newsprint jaundice, when they arrive back home. By then, they’ve read about the day’s national events on CNN’s Web site. They’ve caught snippets of local news on the radio during their commute. And they’re unaware of the in-depth local coverage contained in the SJ-R because the SJ-R’s ads didn’t see fit to mention it. So why, they would ask themselves, should they keep paying to have the paper delivered or start if they don’t already subscribe? I don't think toast and jam is the answer.

1 comment:

Dan M. said...

"Very interesting Mr. Naumovich. Should I consider this your resume'? The ad department job starts at $28,000. When can we expect you to start?"