NMA opens doors with focus on sports pages

The Newspaper Marketing Agency officially opened its doors for business this week with a pledge to push newspapers as an effective and creative marketing tool for reaching and influencing consumers.

Maureen Duffy, the chief executive of the NMA, acknowledged that the creative community was a key target for the NMA's activities as it seeks to push newspaper advertising up the creative agenda. "Creatives have said to us that one of the difficulties of creating press ads is that there's nowhere to hide," Duffy said. "It's just them and their creative partner and a blank sheet of paper."

The NMA's debut is backed by the launch of a website, designed to be the agency's key communications tool, which will aim to inspire fresh creativity. The site will house a creative gallery of innovative newspaper advertising and will carry an example of cutting-edge newspaper advertising from around the world, updated daily.

The website will also include research into readers' views of newspapers and case studies of advertising campaigns that have used newspapers to build brand awareness and drive sales.

One of the key initial areas of focus will be newspapers' sports coverage and its ability to reach male audiences, backed by research into male readers' relationship with their paper's sports pages. The study found that one in three male sports fans spends more than 20 minutes a day reading the sports pages and 54 per cent read the back page of their paper first.

The NMA plans to co-fund research into campaigns run in sports pages.

Speaking at the NMA's launch press conference on Wednesday, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Tessa Jowell, acknowledged the capacity newspapers have to touch consumers in all aspects of their lives and the strong relationships papers have with their readers. However, she stressed the need to focus on building trust with readers and the important role of the Press Complaints Commission in protecting and strengthening that trust.

- Media Forum, p10.

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