Thursday, April 29, 2010

You Can’t Bank on Advertising

Daily newspapers are like banks in that only the strongest will survive. The weak will be gone and their names will either be amalgamated with their more powerful procurers or will disappear forever, except within the memories of long-time readers.

In January, several San Francisco Bay Area newspapers including the Oakland Tribune, the Contra Costa Times and all of their related papers became merely “editions” of the San Jose Mercury News. The Mercury News circulation then climbed to 516,701 moving it into eighth place among major dailies around the country behind the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, N.Y. Daily News, and the New York Post.

In America, bigger has erroneously been equated to being better, so in late April the new Bay Area News Group (BANG) began running advertisements showing that the Bay Area “is our yard” and the Mercury News “is the Big Dog” in the yard.

What wasn’t said is that the new combined circulation represents a drop of 5.4% from the previous year, so there’s less bang for the buck with BANG than before. Omission of facts can be a major strength in advertising.

Capitalism and Communism
The BANG proclamation is analogous to what happened during the Cold War in a two-car, head-to-head competition. A Russian Troika automobile went against an American Ford in a battery of road tests including acceleration, handling, braking, and gas mileage. The Ford thumped the Troika in every category however TASS, the Russian news agency, published the following headline: “While the glorious Troika finished in second place, the American Ford finished next to last.” Ain’t it the truth?

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