Let’s take a moment to examine the NAA’s new industry promotion ad.
Hmmm…there’s a woman with green hair sitting at a table with a very thin newspaper on it (mustn’t be many ads). Protruding from the woman’s head are three party toothpicks containing images of electronic devices.
Well that’s a bit strange.
Beneath the woman is a large tagline: “Smart is the new sexy”.
WTF? When did green hair become sexy?
Wait a minute…is the NAA, in their own clever way, trying to say that newspapers are sexy?
The answer can be found in Editor and Publisher. As it turns out, the NAA has decided to abandon “campaigns based on logic” in favour of a “more visceral message” created to “remind advertisers and consumers about the core competencies of newspapers, about why they should be – and are – trusted, valued and revered.”
For an industry that relies on marketing and advertising dollars for about 80% of its revenue, newspapers have always had a shocking disrespect for the science of marketing.
Case in point: This particular ad was tested on people at the ad agency that created it, the NAA’s working committee and its board of directors. And guess what? They “had a 100-percent positive reaction to that headline”. Imagine that! People like to be called sexy! Who knew?
Perhaps the most spectacularly clueless thing about this campaign is the media plan. The NAA intends to advertise newspapers, in newspapers. That’s right, in newspapers. To people who already read newspapers.
Just to be fair, the NAA isn’t the only print industry organization wasting valuable time and resources creating self-promotional campaigns. Board member Donna Barrett admits being inspired by the magazine industry’s own lame campaign. And up here in Canada, the Canadian Newspaper Association’s 2009 promotional campaign even included an execution with the word “sexy” in it (while you’re on their site, be sure to check out the hilarious pdf entitled Newspapers: A Green Choice).
I dearly hope that incoming NAA CEO Caroline Little will shake this musty old organization to its core. They should focus less on reminding readers and advertisers that they are valuable and more on actually being valuable. That means hard-core research and analytics aimed at understanding how to generate a healthy return on investment for advertisers as well as true reader engagement. The results may be unsettling, but at least they’ll be useful.
What the NAA shouldn’t be doing is telling its membership what it wants to hear. That’s an irresponsible waste of their dues.