The New Age has broken the mould of traditional newspaper design by placing an advertisement above its masthead, long regarded as an act of desecration by purists.
But CEO Nazeem Howa is unrepentant.
“Newspapers are often referred to as the dinosaurs of the industry. With the launch of The New Age, its owners set the objective of challenging long-standing conventions within newspapering without in anyway impacting the credibility of the title,” he said.
“We believe that the Game execution met that objective in that it provided a platform that the advertiser used to great effect. And, for The New Age, it meant we got a retailer into our paper with five months of our launch – a coup indeed.”
Howa said the paper’s “primary sales pitch remains to offer advertisers an opportunity to go beyond the conventional block advertising and to provide creative executions that enhances responses to their advertisers”.
The Game ad, he said, did just that. “We firmly believe that we will need to continue to push the envelope in all ways if newspapers wish to remain an important part of the media mix.”
Howa said the advertiser had set The New Age a challenge to create a proposal that would “get them noticed”.
“We then went to them with a commercial offering which we believe worked for both parties. We certainly are very happy with the deal and we believe it has got people talking,” he said.
He would not confirm how much that particular position would cost advertisers, saying only that “the deal has a loading attached to it”.
“But we certainly believe Game is getting value for money. At the end of the day, I suppose it depends on Game’s return on investment as to whether the deal is expensive. At this stage they are continuing to use the space, though,” he said.
Asked whether Game’s distinctive and very bright pink brand identity could clash with The New Age’s traditional grey, black and red masthead, Howa said the paper’s designers had taken this into account.
“Our proposal was well-thought through before we visited the client and all issues were considered, including the risk to the brand etc. We went into believing it was win-win for both the client and ourselves. In reality, finding creative options is a key part of our sales pitch and we will push the envelope further.”