Tuesday, May 15, 2007

NAA marketing misfires - again

The folks at the Newspaper Association of America have transcended the bounds of good taste and common decency by adding an online target-practice game to their arsenal of stupid marketing tricks.

As if the much-ridiculed E.T.-like mascot were not a sufficiently dubious centerpiece for a campaign to promote the newspaper industry, the NAA’s marketing web site now features a shoot-’em-up game reminiscent of the Kill Osama genre that became popular after 9/11.

The NAA’s new game puts you at the controls of a bazooka firing rolled-up newspapers at an onrushing series of delivery tubes. With the launch of each paper accompanied by a hearty thwacking sound, the game keeps score of how many papers land successfully in a tube. “Better luck next time,” says the final screen. “You delivered 1 papers [sic].”

Although I’m a bit grouchy because my best score was only three successful deliveries out of 20 possible tubes, I am confounded as to how this game supports the trade group’s campaign to position newspapers as giving “advertisers access to an engaged, affluent audience.”

"This is obviously not a campaign targeting consumers in general," says Mort Goldstrom, vice president of advertising at the NAA. "The game was designed to increase both the engagement factor and the fun quotient for advertisers and agency executives, who tend to be twenty-somethings used to engaging with online media in new ways as part of their advertising decision making."

Mort says the twenty-somethings have been playing the game so avidly in the first month of its release that it has generated 70% of the traffic drawn to the NAA's promotional web site in all of 2006.

But the twenty-somethings apparently have been so busy playing the game that they have forgotten to buy newspaper ads. The Tribune Co., the first company to report April sales results, had an 8.6% drop in revenues from last year -- on top of the generally dismal sales performance suffered by the industry in the first quarter of '007.

If it's any consolation to you, the gun featured in the game is not supposed to be a gun but a "futuristic projectile launcher," says Mort. Still, it looks, and sounds, like a gun to me. And here's why I object to the program:

At a subliminal level, the large number of papers missing their targets seems to belie the idea that this medium hits the spot.

At a not-so-subliminal level, I am offended that the campaign glorifies guns when 32 innocents were just shot to death at Virginia Tech – less than 260 miles from the NAA’s front door.

The Martin advertising agency, which developed the game, "has a heavy concentration of Virginia Tech graduates, including the twins of our management supervisor," says Mort. None of them, he says, saw the game "as an insensitive insult."

Well, I do. This embarrassingly off-target idea needs to be shot down. Now.

3 Comments:

Blogger Paul Conley said...

I'm speechless.
I cannot imagine a campaign that was less well suited for an "engaged, affluent audience."

1:01 PM  
Anonymous David Mastio said...

Completely leaving aside the ET and the success of the campaign, the secret of the game is to stay in the center and hit the easy ones in the middle where you can aim striaght on and switch your target from box to box much faster. If you go to either extreme, you'll miss because you have to hit the boxes on an angle and thus time them just right.

This 35-year-old got 19-20 on my second try.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you seriously compare a newspaper launcher game to the shootings at VT??? and the part about less than 260 miles away? Thats not even that close first of all. Secondly did you sit down and try real hard to find a similarity between the two. Come on you really think the NAA is really trying to mimic the biggest shooting in this country to an online promotional tool. Good article, you should have just left that one part out. That was ridiculous.

5:53 PM  

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