‘Have You Seen It?’

Duffy Campaign for Providence Newspaper Mimics X-Files to Attract Younger Readers
BOSTON–Duffy & Shanley’s latest effort for the Providence Journal-Bulletin targets a younger audience as the newspaper’s circulation figures remain stagnant.
Breaking this week throughout Rhode Island, a series of TV, radio, print and outdoor executions introduce the tagline, “Have you seen it?”
A 30-second TV spot apes the style of an episode of The X-Files. Ambient music plays as elements of a typical suburban home–a fish in a tank, a toy dinosaur–take on menacing appearances. A child opens the front door, but instead of an alien encounter, the Journal-Bulletin arrives.
“We’re trying to turn this into an event . . . when [the paper] arrives at your door,” said Peter Marcionetti, creative director of the Providence, R.I., agency. “We’re trying to appeal to a newer, younger demographic” of readers in their 20s and 30s, he said.
About $1 million is being spent on the effort, said Marcionetti, who was the campaign’s creative director. Michael Silvia was the copywriter. Sixten Abbot handled art direction. Harry McCoy directed the TV spot.
The campaign is in stark contrast to last year’s ads, which used the tagline, “Every year since 1829. The paper,” to underscore the Journal-Bulletin’s 168-year commitment to the Ocean State. At that time, the paper had just been purchased for $1.5 billion by A.H. Belo Corp. of Dallas, which wanted to assure readers that the paper would continue to be a part of their lives.
The current campaign, which will run for the next several months, eschews history in favor of positioning the Journal-Bulletin as an alternative source of news for young people who get their coverage mainly from TV or the Internet, Marcionetti said. Continued flat circulation figures over the past few years made it imperitive to seek out new readers, he added.
The tagline of the Journal-Bulletin’s latest campaign is somewhat reminiscent of “Get it,” the line currently employed by Boston-based Holland Mark Martin Edmund in its ads for The Boston Globe. Marcionetti shrugged off the similarity, noting that in recent years many papers, including The Wall Street Journal, have developed taglines that prominently feature the word “it.