‘Chicago Tribune’ Tries the Hard Sell

By: Mark Fitzgerald

When it comes to their TV ads, some newspapers are concluding that image isn’t everything — you’ve got to close the sale, too.

A case in point is the Chicago Tribune TV campaign for Sunday-only subscriptions that launched last week. The spots, by Marc USA,
feature the same themes as recent Tribune branding commercials — but add a big dose of hard sell. Ads emphasize the price point, keep the phone number on the screen, and sweeten the deal with a teddy-bear premium.

Though known for its high-production-value image spots, the Tribune uses this kind of “direct response” advertising occasionally, spokesman Jeff Bierig said.

For more than a year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has run spots that are similar hybrids of branding and pricing. The theme — “Get Your Own” — is illustrated by comic scenarios of people trying to sneak a read of someone else’s copy. The sales trigger is an offer of free home delivery for two weeks.

With the growing resistance to telemarketing, said John Murray, the Newspaper Association of America’s vice president of circulation, one strategy is to buy direct-response TV spots with money budgeted for telephone sales.

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