NOLA Notes: Newspaper Ad Wars

The war of words between the two A’s, Advance and the Advocate, continues to be addictive. The Advocate is running some teevee ads featuring some high profile New Orleanians including some local pols:

If you haven’t seen The New Orleans Advocate‘s
new television campaign, you probably will soon. The brisk, clever ads
emphasize the paper’s daily delivery schedule and feature local
personalities — Archie Manning, Irma Thomas, Rita Benson LeBlanc, Andrea
Apuzzo, the 610 Stompers — ringing a doorbell and handing copies of The New Orleans Advocate to
a surprised homeowner. It’s all set to a jazzy soundtrack and the
familiar Yat growl of Ronnie Virgets: “New Orleans is at ya do’ — seven
days a week.”

But it’s not all chefs, musicians and sports figures. Among the familiar
faces ringing the doorbell are several elected officials: Jefferson
Parish President John Young and Sheriff Newell Normand; St. Tammany
Parish President Pat Brister; and New Orleans City Council Vice
President Stacy Head.

“Business is good in Jefferson Parish!” Young says, handing the
homeowner a newspaper, while Head announces, “Here’s the latest from the
City Council!”

Most newspapers’ marketing departments — including that of The New Orleans Advocate
— are completely separate from their newsroom operations. Nonetheless,
using elected officials in ads for a newspaper is a new one on Kelly
McBride, the house ethics expert at the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit
school for journalism in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Advocate obviously has a competitive relationship with The Times-Picayune,” McBride told Gambit. “If the politicians join The Advocate in sharing that message, what does that say about The Advocate’s ability to critically examine those politicians?”

I think it’s going to be a major problem at some point down the road. The NOLA mogul who bought the Red Stick paper, John Georges, is well connected and politically ambitious. He ran unsuccessfully and boringly for Governor in 2007 and Mayor in 2009. He laid an egg as a candidate-partially because he cannot decide if he wants to be a Republican, Independent, or Democrat. The good news is that he’s not a Koch Brothers style ideologue, he just wants to be famous and worshipped by the fawning masses.

The critical Gambit blog post by pulp fiction fancier and First Draft reader, Kevin Allman, is a sign that the honeymoon with the Mogul is starting to fade. While I’m glad we have a local alternative to Newhousian malakatude, Georges bugs me; eventually he’s going to get tired of running the Advocate as a “public service” and want to make money. For now he’s enjoying the love but I’m waiting for the next shoe to drop.

As newspapers drop like flies around the country, I’m enjoying the great NOLA newspaper war. I’m not sure how long it will endure so I’m looking into 12-step programs to kick this unlikely addiction:

One thought on “NOLA Notes: Newspaper Ad Wars

  1. MichaelF says:

    I’m a little torn on this one. Can’t say I like politicians endorsing a newspaper, but the Pic giving the city a big middle finger with their harebrained three-day-a-week scheme might deserve that sort of response.
    The real shame, IMHO, is that Newhouse didn’t at least try to sell the paper before gutting it. That’s really rank. Someone might have bought it — hell, maybe Georges.

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