Newspapers One Step Ahead Of The Internet, Because You Can’t Eat The Internet

Say what you will about the lumbering dinosaur of an industry in which I currently work, but nobody can accuse them of not thinking outside the box. Who else would’ve come up with something as needlessly idiosyncratic AP Style? Who else would’ve thought to lay off entire workforces for weeks at a time to save on the bills? Who else would’ve thought to give their content away for free and then expect people to still pay for that content at a later time? Who else would’ve thought, in a time when ad revenue was in steep decline due to the simultaneous deaths of the industry and the U.S. economy, to start selling edible ad space?

Imagine opening a Sunday newspaper and amongst the coupons is an advertisement for a new sports drink imploring you to lick it for a sample. Sound like an early April Fools’ Day joke? Well, it isn’t. In fact the marketing folks at newspaper ink giant U.S. Ink Corp. think it is one of the few things that can save the newspaper industry from oblivion.

Other ideas: A 10,000 percent price increase, or asking people nicely to stop using the internet to get their news and opinion pieces.

Not mentioned: More competent staffing. (Seriously, how did someone like, say, me slip through the cracks? And I’m not even old the beneficiary of years of experience. [Well, I guess the standard has been set terrifyingly low for sportswriters anyway.])

U.S. Ink, a unit of Sun Chemical Corp., calls its new product Taste-It Note, and for the last two weeks the Carlstadt, N.J., company has been trying to convince newspapers to adopt the peel-and-taste strips to help lick a predicted 22% drop in 2009 advertising revenue, according to New Jersey newspaper The Record.

U.S. Ink marketing manager Todd Wheeler told The Record the Taste-It Notes could give newspaper advertising an advantage that digital communications can’t match

Can’t you just picture mildly aroused publishers across the country stumbling upon this news in their latest copies of Editor and Publisher as they rest their feet up on their desks stapled-together refrigerator boxes (times be tough) and boisterously remark to themselves, “This is a tremendous idea! I mean, after we get past the cost of producing and/or purchasing these ‘notes’, and then go through the laborious task of finding advertisers who want to pay for the honor of being the guinea pigs for them, and then test-run the idea — knowing our readers, this is sure to be a hit — the World Wide Web doesn’t stand a chance! http://www.whatnowmotherfuckers.com backslash yeah! There’s gonna be some mad furloughs up in this bitch!”

I can.

— not to mention a “yuck” factor.

“…I hadn’t thought of that. … Well, if people trust us with their news, why wouldn’t they trust us with their gastrointestinal system?”

But wait!

However, U.S. Ink must have been aware of the fear of germs because the taste strips, which are manufactured by Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based First Flavor, are packaged in a pouch for freshness.

ALL OUR PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED.

The company states 1.5 million people have tasted the Taste-It Note, and 59% were more likely to purchase the product after tasting it.

That’s nearly well over half.

Not everyone seems to be sold, though. Witness this blatant case of an author injecting his probably liberal opinion into his writing:

While clearly it could help keep some advertisers on board, it probably won’t sell more newspapers. After all, who is going to buy newspapers just to taste an ad anyway?

The answer, of course, is the homeless, who will now get a free meal with their blanket/toilet tissue. Fortunately for publishers, there’s a lot more of them than there used to be.

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