Media: Strategy of the Week - Metro drive aims for Newcastle saturation in May

Metro wants to focus on one city to maximise the impact of its push, Ian Darby writes. It seems surprising that the free newspaper Metro has not run a major consumer advertising campaign for more than three years.

The brand has created such a buzz around itself, especially in its London heartland, through trade initiatives and groundbreaking research, that you'd think it safe to assume it must also have been spending hand over fist on awareness campaigns.

Not so. But the campaign that broke in Newcastle on 26 April recognised that occasionally it needs to remind consumers of the product. The objectives were to raise awareness of the brand, to strengthen its profile with the right audience and to reach a business audience of potential advertisers.

Barrett Cernis created the work, which flows from a large outdoor campaign that will attempt to dominate the centre of Newcastle throughout May, and Starcom MediaVest handled media planning and buying.

The line used in the 18 creative executions is "news at the speed of life" and it attempts to target Metro's main audience of thirtysomething commuters with the message that Metro gives them the information they want in the time they have to read it.

Metro chose Newcastle as the city in which to run the campaign because since the title launched there, four years ago, Newcastle has been through major regeneration and expansion.

Media strategy revolves around trying to target commuters on their way to work, at points when they are most receptive to the message. As well as outdoor, the campaign involves radio, ambient and guerrilla activity.

Karen Wall, Metro's marketing director, says: "It's our ambition to own Newcastle for a month in May."

Metro has tried to buy, through the poster specialist Poster Publicity, most of the available 48- and 16-sheet space in central Newcastle. It has taken every poster site at Newcastle's three main rail stations, as well as all the six-sheets around them. It has also bought the equivalent of 48-sheet space on ad vans because it didn't feel there was enough outdoor space available for its requirements.

Poster Publicity has also bought some roadside space on major commuter routes into Newcastle to target car drivers.

Metro is also trying to introduce more energy around the activity, with staff on promotional bikes and rollerbladers distributing copies. Vinyl A4 spots on the Newcastle Metro system will also run. Barrett Cernis has taken the 18 creative executions and reformatted them to the A4 size and they will run across 800 sites.

Six radio executions, featuring the varying elements of Metro's appeal, are running on breakfast and drive-time shows on Century, Galaxy and Metro radio stations.

If the campaign is successful, Metro will consider rolling it out to other selected cities, although it has no plan to run such large-scale awareness in the new areas it is about to launch in (Nottingham and Bristol included).

Metro's media activity is deliberately focused on one city in order to provide the maximum impact possible for a six-figure sum.

It has eschewed a national branding campaign for a more focused burst of activity and has put in place measurement procedures to judge the effectiveness of the Newcastle work.

Much of this drive relates to creating a focused customer base of young urbanites and increasing excitement among this target audience. No easy task.

Client: Associated Newspapers (Metro)

Media: Outdoor, ambient, radio

Agencies: Barrett Cernis, Starcom MediaVest, Poster Publicity

Media idea: To "take over" the city of Newcastle during May

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