Revamped Edmonton Journal gives readers the finger

New campaign from Sid Lee emphasizes the content available at readers' fingertips

Postmedia Network believes it has its finger on a new way forward for the newspaper industry, and is showcasing its digital capabilities in a new campaign promoting the revamped Edmonton Journal.

The Journal is the fourth Postmedia publication to relaunch under the “reimagined” four-platform approach pioneered by the Toronto-based company last year, following the Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette and The Calgary Herald.

The company’s new “2.0” products emphasize digital accessibility through enhanced products for smartphone, tablet and laptop, as well as a revamped print product that includes a new logo, a new font and design enhancements.

The Journal is also participating in a new pilot program that will see it incorporate an 8-12 page print section of news and analysis from Postmedia’s national daily, the National Post. The new section is called “NP in the Edmonton Journal.”

While marketing for Postmedia’s previous “reimagined” products has focused on the company’s four-platform strategy, the new “At Your Fingertips” campaign from Sid Lee’s Toronto office emphasizes the Journal’s local content and digital capabilities.

TV and pre-roll video spots feature an index finger resembling an aspect of the Journal’s coverage, such as a hockey player for sports and a police chief for crime. The finger is then pressed against an invisible screen before swiping sideways – accompanied by an audible squeak – to reveal the associated content vertical.

Some of the characters resemble actual people, such as the Journal’s well-known arts columnist Marty Chan, while future iterations in the 12-week campaign will include other well-known Edmontonians, said Postmedia’s vice-president of marketing Rene Vierling.

Out-of-home advertising mimics the video spots, while radio ads talk about the variety of Journal content available at users’ fingertips, all backed by a dramatic score. The campaign is intended to be “bit witty and thought-provoking” said Vierling.

He said the campaign has three specific objectives: Growing the Journal’s digital subscriber base, particularly on the emerging smartphone platform; engaging existing users with more repeat visits and more time spent; and growing the publication’s total audience.

“We know specifically that Canadians are among the leading consumers of web content via their mobile phone, so that’s where we’re really focusing on growth,” said Vierling. “We’re really focusing on how that local content is going to be available in the voice they’re looking for across the platform of their choice.”

The Ottawa Citizen was the first Postmedia title to relaunch under the “reimagined” banner in 2014, as the company attempted to stem losses in both readership and advertising.

Speaking with Marketing last year, Postmedia’s former chief operating officer Wayne Parrish said the Citizen relaunch produced an approximately 18% increase in unique visitors across its three digital platforms, with just 3% audience duplication between its desktop and mobile products and just 2% between the tablet and smartphone.

He said the Citizen created incremental revenue of between $250,000 and $300,000 within the first few months of its relaunch, with the revamped Gazette achieving “that and more” during the launch period alone.

The Windsor Star will be the fifth Postmedia title to relaunch under the “reimagined” program in the “coming months,” said Vierling.

The launch of the four-platform Journal product coincided with the news that Quebec daily La Presse will convert its weekday edition to digital-only in January, but Vierling said Postmedia has no current plans to abandon print.

“We still believe that a four-platform strategy is the best way for us to engage our readers and advertisers,” he said. “Print is definitely a continued focus for us, with continued focus on tablets, smartphone and web.”

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