By: Joe Nicholson
Financial Times, FT.com Campaigns Bolster Each Other
from this week’s Editor & Publisher magazine:
The British-owned Financial Times (FT) has driven up its U.S.
circulation from 40,000 to 104,000 in two years with an aggressive
marketing campaign, and now FT.com is dishing out $35 million for ads
to help drum up Yankee traffic.
Like its print sister, FT.com covets the vast American market of
business executives who need to keep abreast of global business news.
FT.com’s ads will run through the end of the year in media that include
national and regional newspapers, magazines, TV, outdoor, and the Web.
‘We have identified an opportunity to significantly increase usage by
massively broadening reach and awareness of our site in the U.S.,’ says
Michael Foster, managing director of FT.com. While FT.com’s traffic is
centered in Britain now, its officials hope traffic from the U.S.
market will eventually match British traffic.
The print FT more than doubled its circulation with a $160-million,
five-year global effort that was concentrated in the United States –
and which has been done despite increased and upgraded international
coverage in FT’s world-class competitor, the 1.8-million-circulation
Wall Street Journal. FT poured money into advertising, promotion, and
public relations as well as new printing plants and other improvements.
FT has continued to boost its ad budget each year; it hopes to hit a
circulation in the 200,000 to 250,000 range by the middle of this
‘It made sense to move the Financial Times into the largest market in
the English-speaking world,’ says Stuart Arnold, FT’s managing director
of the Americas and an architect of its powerful growth. Arnold rejects
suggestions by some American newspaper officials that the Audit Bureau
of Circulation in Britain, which puts FT’s global circulation at
449,151, accepts more circulation than would be accepted by the U.S.-
based Audit Bureau of Circulations. The two circulation groups are not
The print and Web sisters conduct their ad campaigns separately, but FT
executives are convinced that each campaign bolsters the other. ‘We see
strong synergies between the newspaper users and the dot-com users,’
says Barry Herstein, who has global marketing responsibilities as the
parent firm’s senior vice president/group marketing director.
The newspaper’s budget for advertising has grown each year for the last
three years, says Arnold, who notes ads were crucial for building
circulation because his paper began with ‘very low name recognition and
even lower comprehension of what the paper was about.’ In addition, he
improved delivery. ‘There was a lot of growth that could come pretty
quickly just by making sure we had first-rate early-morning delivery,’
FT also helped its circulation by hiring public-relations consultants
who arranged for many of the newspaper’s editors and reporters to make
appearances on TV news and discussion shows. In fact, the newspaper is
just finishing construction of a TV studio in its New York newsroom to
make it easier for TV crews to tape interviews with FT journalists.
Many of their appearances have been on CNN, which seeks to take
advantage of the global expertise of the FT staff.
Both the newspaper, which is printed on paper some call pink and others
call salmon pink, and FT.com, which uses pinkish bands on its site,
exploit the color in their ads to enhance recognition. ‘We do things
like giving pink champagne out to customers,’ adds Arnold, who says the
promotions and circulation growth have contributed to a doubling of the
paper’s advertising sales each year for the last three years. ‘We’re
getting a lot of accounting firms and consulting firms,’ declares
Arnold, who says the paper has also drawn ads from ‘Cisco, Compaq, all
the big technology players,’ and many financial-service firms.
FT.com’s newspaper ads are beginning in three national dailies – The
New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today – and in
regional papers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San
Francisco, Boston, Washington, Detroit, Dallas, and Seattle.
Seattle was picked because it’s a technology hub; the other regional
newspapers were selected because they have ‘a high concentration of Web
usage’ and ‘happen, for the most part, to be in the same areas that the
newspaper is focusing on,’ Herstein says.
Newspapers are being used because ‘that’s where you are going to catch
the bulk of your business people,’ explains Sue Haxager, senior vice
president/senior account director at BBDO New York, which created the
campaign. ‘Newspapers have a high level of readership among
Moreover, the ad agency wanted newspapers in the mix in case it decides
to incorporate news developments into the campaign’s ads. ‘Newspapers
give us the immediacy and the flexibility to announce news about the
site. Within a week, you can be in the papers,’ says Haxager, who
pointed out that the only other medium as fast as newspapers is radio,
which is not part of the FT.com media plan. TV can take six to 12 weeks
depending on production complexity, she says, adding that magazines
require an insertion a month or two before publication.
In coming months, the newspaper schedule may change based on ‘results
from the first wave,’ explains Herstein. One certain paper is FT, which
is running house ads.
Joe Nicholson (email@example.com>) is an associate
editor for Editor & Publisher magazine.
(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher