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Johnson & Johnson and Unilever to up regional spend

LONDON - Consumer goods giants Johnson & Johnson and Unilever have confirmed that they are set to make substantial investments in regional press advertising.

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News of the two firms' commitment to the regional press came today at the launch of a new study into advertising effectiveness published by the Newspaper Society.

The £250,000 research conducted by Millward Brown won the World Association of Newspapers Advertising Effectiveness Research award earlier this week and is part of a strategy to help sell the regional press as a vital advertising medium.

Roy Jeans, managing director of Initiative Media and advertising controller of Unilever, said the publication of the report removed the last barrier to doing business with regional press.

"All that's been missing from the jigsaw up until now has been a credible piece of industry research that clearly quantifies the key benefits," Jeans said.

An advertising campaign to promote the report breaks in the marketing and media trade press next week, supported by direct mail and online marketing. Meanwhile the Newspaper Society's advertising affairs team will be presenting the findings to agencies and clients.

The Newspaper Society said today that it would build on the research by offering advertisers the chance to carry out pilot tests, funded by the regional press, to see how the medium worked best for them, and in particular how it could impact on sales.

At the launch, Newspaper Society marketing director David Hoath spoke of how the industry had put aside another substantial six-figure sum to do this and would be seeking partners from agencies and clients, especially new and non-traditional advertisers.

"We want you, the advertisers and agencies, to put us to the test -- try our medium and prove to yourselves the increasingly important job that it can do for brands," he said.

Jeans urged all advertisers and agencies to take up the Newspaper Society's offer of a test: "We started our own dialogue with the NS in the area of regional press effectiveness just under three years ago, when PG Tips took part in a £200,000 area test. We wanted to measure pre- and post-awareness, as well as spend and sales effect. The results were clear -- the medium delivers."

Hoath said the launch of the report symbolised a new and more assertive beginning for the marketing of the industry.

"Armed with indisputable proof of its effectiveness, the regional press is now entering a new era of confidence, challenging agencies and advertisers to seriously consider it as a national advertising medium," Hoath said.

Key points about are study are:

  • Local press can deliver a significant impact on sales and return on investment. One client experienced a 34% increase in turnover following its local press campaign. The value of the sales increase was 2.3 times the expenditure on local press advertising.

  • Local press works particularly well for clients targeting consumers who are "in the market" to buy.

  • Local press can work harder than other media delivering a disproportionate share of awareness relative to its share of the schedule.

  • New advertisers to the medium with low existing levels of awareness or fmcg goods advertisers seeking a rapid burst of awareness growth should employ a high use of colour and high frequency of insertions.

  • Established local press advertisers who wish to sustain and grow awareness should maintain a consistent presence over a sustained period of time.

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