Maiden Lane Adds ‘Examiner’ Business

SAN FRANCISCO Independent shop Maiden Lane has taken on creative chores for the rollout of the Examiner newspapers in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., the agency said today.

Maiden Lane adds these assignments after being the agency for the San Francisco Examiner since November 2004. Clarity Media Group of Denver owns the papers. The Washington Examiner has been introduced, and the Baltimore Examiner will launch in early 2006, the agency said.

“This move consolidates the Examiner brand with Maiden Lane,” said Ryan McKibben, president and CEO of Clarity Media. “Maiden Lane did an outstanding job launching the San Francisco paper. Not only did they show a thorough understanding of our business model and target, they executed an inventive media campaign that made a big impact.”

Once a rival daily to the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner has been sold twice since 2000. Qwest Communications founder and Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz bought the paper from the Fang family in February 2004.

The Hearst Corp. was the previous owner. Anschutz established Clarity Media last year and bought the two additional papers on the East Coast to add to the Examiner fold.

“This gives us the opportunity to brand all the Examiner markets with one consistent voice,” said Bob Gardner, president of Maiden Lane in San Francisco. “It’s exciting to be working on one of the very few newspaper brands developing a national presence.”

The San Francisco paper had lost much of its influence after the sale to the Fangs. Because it was a tabloid, delivered free, it was seen as second rate rather than a legitimate Chronicle competitor. Maiden Lane principals said their agency improved the paper’s reputation.

“We got readers to stop looking at the Examiner as a tabloid and start looking at it as a smarter choice for their busy life,” said John Maxham, chief creative officer at Maiden Lane. “We positioned it as a complete newspaper that offered a better way to get local news.”

Ad spend was not disclosed. Clarity Media spent $700,000 on advertising in 2004, the most recent year for which figures were available, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.