The APG Creative Strategy Awards Shortlist 2009: The Economist

Planned by: Magali Barreyat-Baron, Annabelle Watson
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Brand: The Economist
Campaign: Explore


This is the story of a brand walking away from a celebrated campaign. For more than 20 years, The Economist's business model had focused on high-worth consumers, and premium ad space. But the new chief executive wanted to triple profit in five years. The old model offered limited options for such expansion. The Economist needed a new audience.

By questioning all aspects of the existing strategy, a clear hypothesis as to audience emerged. Only 5 per cent of Generation Y were Economist readers. Although the content was appropriate for them, its brand values were not. Research identified two modes of knowledge-gathering used by Generation Y, "beach-combing" and "coal-mining". The Economist was found to deliver beach-combing par excellence.

The research was thorough and insightful, but the panel also loved the way the campaign was briefed. Initially, heritage was a block and the first ads didn't make the transition. Briefing number two mapped visually all the knowledge connections respondents had made, creating a web of interconnected ideas. This provided the creative breakthrough needed.