Newspaper industry: Let’s target old people!

By Steve Outing

There’s some good stuff in the latest issue of Classified Intelligence Report, a paid industry newsletter. For instance, there’s news about MySpace getting into the classifieds business — an incredible opportunity for the social-networking site. (I wrote about this over at Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits today.) That’s an example of an old-line media company (Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. purchased MySpace last year) operating intelligently in the Internet world.

NAA adBut elsewhere in the pages of CIR is news of the newspaper industry’s latest embarrassment when it comes to adapting to the digital age. Peter M. Zollman notes how the Newspaper Association of America’s new $50 million ad campaign, meant to convince 20-something ad buyers that newspapers are still an important advertising medium, is really lame. Using the slogan “Newspaper advertising — A destination, not a distraction,” the NAA campaign uses images “that evoke either the Victorian Age, Rube Goldberg or Monty Python, depending on your generation,” writes Zollman. The campaign is due to kick off on March 20 in AdAge and AdWeek magazines.

The ads were panned at a recent NAA conference, where Zollman says “at least 50 people — yes, I counted — told me they were appalled, disappointed, frustrated, etc. ‘The creative reeked,’ one publisher said. … ‘There was a mutiny’ at the NAA new-media federation when the ads were previewed, I was told.”

I agree. The campaign images evoke the impression of a dying industry. It seems designed to people over 60 (at least). The NAA should scrap this turkey and find a new ad agency.

(To be fair and clear, Zollman also concedes that not everyone in the industry hates the ads, and he lauds the NAA for at least making an attempt at stemming newspapers’ decline. I’ll be less conciliatory; I think the campaign sends the message and reinforces that newspapers are of the past.)

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!