Meridian Targets Younger Readers for Newspaper

Meridian Communications introduced its first advertising for Knight-Ridder’s Lexington Herald-Leader this month.

To counter lagging sales in the under-40 demographic, Meridian’s multilevel marketing approach seeks to build awareness of the newspaper among 18-24-year-olds, increase sporadic buys in the 25-30 age group and turn 30-somethings into daily subscribers, according to Mary Epple-Ekhoff, client vice president of marketing. Although both the television and radio executions incorporate “Every day’s different” as a tagline, each medium follows a separate theme.

The campaign was conceived by creative director Dan Renaud and copywriter Christopher Tomlin. Two 30-second TV spots use special effects and car crashes to symbolize the daily’s break with its stodgy past, said Renaud.

In “Car Chase,” a muscle car zooms around downtown corners, ultimately splattering a Herald-Leader news rack. A tight shot ends the spot as the unseen driver opens his door and picks up a paper.

In “Five-Story Drop,” a newspaper street box plummets from the top of an office building. When it hits the ground, papers and coins spew everywhere. A 20-something reader then takes a paper and leaves her four bits.

The spots are playing on regional network affiliates and cable channels. But it is the Lexington, Ky., shop’s radio campaign that is getting the most buzz, said Epple-Ekhoff.

Radio ads star Internet character Odd Todd, with voiceovers by the cartoon’s creator, Todd Rosenberg. The out-of-work New Yorker’s Web site,, has built a cult following among fashionably unemployed Gen X-ers. In four spots, written by Renaud and Rosenberg, Odd Todd, after an almost mindless ramble on what he could be doing if he only had a newspaper, delivers his catch phrase, “What day’s today?”