SANTA ANA, CALIF. - The Orange County Register is about to launch a review in hopes of bolstering its arsenal in the circulation battle with the Los Angeles Times.
The Register has worked with Ad Speak/Los Gatos, Calif., on a project basis in recent months. 'They've done a good job for us, but we may need a bigger shop,' said vp/sales and marketing Ron Redfern. Ad Speak will likely be invited to participate along with three or four local agencies Redfern hopes to contact in the next two months.
With circulation of 313,411 daily and 365,864 on Sundays in the local market, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation's March 1993 report, The Register enjoys a substantial lead over the Times' Orange County edition, which has nearly 200,000 daily readers and almost 300,000 on Sundays.
But the Times, which has had Costa Mesa, Calif.-shop Salvati Montgomery Sakoda handling its advertising since 1990, has upped the ante in recent months, focusing on local coverage in its Orange County edition and dropping the price of daily and Sunday copies. The Times recently ran its first-ever broadcast television spots promoting the edition - an expensive move since much of the reach of those broadcasts is outside the Orange County market the newspaper hopes to capture.
'Fierce is a good word' for the battle between the two newspapers, said Bill Furlow, marketing director for the Times in Orange County. 'They've been very aggressive and we've been very aggressive and no one's backing off.'
While no one on either side of the newspaper war would comment on ad spending, industry sources estimated past Register ad spending of $1-2 million annually, with much of its promotion work handled in house, and plenty of media trade-offs involved.
The Register's Redfern said the newspaper will likely stick to outdoor, radio and cable spots, with many running on the local news channel it operates. Register officials have not yet settled on a budget for the rest of the year, hoping to leave some flexibility to run hard with an idea sufficiently impressive.
'We're zero-basing it, and then the quality of the plan is going to drive the size of the resources,' Redfern said.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)