CAMPAIGN REPORT: TOP EUROPEAN NEWSPAPERS - Paper traders. Falling sales and the rise of the internet are major issues facing the ad departments in some of Europe’s top newspapers. Richard Cook asks the ad directors how they’re tackling the



Managing director and head of group Zeitungsgruppe Bild

Bild has some claim to be the biggest daily paper in the world and is

certainly, by some considerable distance, the biggest newspaper

published in Europe. The entertainment-heavy publication sells 4.7

million copies every day and has around 11.5 million readers. There are

35 different editorial editions and 45 advertising allocation units, all

of which fall under the control of the managing director, Achim Twardy,

a 39-year-old Hamburg native. Twardy joined the Axel Springer graduate

training scheme straight out of college and has subsequently risen

through the ranks within the group’s extensive free newspaper division

before joining the flagship title, Bild, in 1992. Four years later was

been promoted to the position of managing director.

’One of our chief concerns right now is the rise of the internet,’

Twardy explains, ’but having said that, I do think print is in a much

better position than television to compete with the up-coming online


Online users read more books than the average. They consume more

magazines, read a wider selection of newspapers and watch less

television. But at the end of the day, an online service is confronted

with the same classic journalistic requirements as a newspaper: the

search, selection and presentation of information, which is why we see

it as the most important new development for our newspaper, and why we

have invested so heavily in our Bild Online service.

’Overall, though, we think a flexible editorial concept is the key to

keeping a leading market position as the competition with online and

electronic media continues to hot up.’


Advertising director, Ouest France

Toulemonde started his career selling computers for Unisys before

switching to the media side, selling posters at Havas. Then, ten years

ago, he joined one of France’s leading regional dailies, Ouest France.

Now 36, he has spent the last decade working his way up the paper’s ad

team hierarchy.

Ouest France has a circulation of around 787,000 and a readership of 2.3

million, making it France’s leading regional, with more than double the

sales of its nearest contender, Sud Ouest. These figures also make it by

far the best selling daily newspaper in France. Of the national dailies,

none sells over half a million, with Le Parisien leading the way with a

circulation of 446,000.

’As far as we are concerned, though, there are two major potential

problems on the horizon for newspapers in France,’ Toulemonde says. ’The

first is more speculative, the second is already happening. Currently

retailers are prohibited by law from advertising on TV, but that might

be about to change with proposed legislation scheduled to go through on

1 January next year.

’The problem is that retailers represent around 20 per cent of our

turnover, so that could potentially represent a real blow. The second

major problem is one I guess we share with other newspaper industries

across Europe, and that is falling sales. It’s difficult to know what

can be done to alter this trend. One thing we have done successfully is

to develop new revenue streams, chief of which has been a classified

section designed for individuals.’


Advertising director, Aftenposten

As the advertising director of the second-largest daily in Norway, the

country with the largest percentage of newspaper readers in the world,

Overby should be in a happier position than many of his European

contemporaries. In reality, he shares a great deal of their


’TV’s market share in Norway is around 33 per cent, the internet is

maybe responsible for 1 per cent of ad budgets and newspapers for at

least 50 per cent,’ he points out. ’Does this mean that the agencies’

focus is 50 per cent on newspaper advertising? No way. The focus is

totally the other way around. The main focus is on TV and all the

supposedly wonderful new media, such as the internet or sponsoring park

benches, trashcans and even toilets. Newspapers never get their fair

share of ad agencies’ attention.’ In fact, the 40-year-old Overby is in

a better position than most to justify this claim, having spent five

years on the other side of the fence at the Anderson & Lembke ad agency,

before taking a job as ad director at Norway’s leading magazine

publisher, Hjemmet Mortensen. Then, three years ago, he accepted the job

at Aftenposten. ’As far as our immediate challenges go, though, I would

highlight two: the first is technical, the second more about our

tactical positioning.

’The technical issue is digital. The digitalisation of the printing

process must be speeded up. We want to accept only digital advertising

material by the end of 1999.

’The other concern is tactical. We have to fight for our market share

against free papers and against the net. The internet is not as big a

threat as we first thought because it is only challenging our classified

markets, but that is bad enough.’


Vice-president, advertising, de Telegraaf Netherlands

At the heart of what has traditionally been one of the strongest

newspaper markets in Europe is de Telegraaf, the market leader and the

flagship of a group that now publishes more than a quarter of all Dutch

copy sales.

And although the press share of all ad revenue in Holland has tumbled

from 80 per cent at the beginning of the 90s to 72 per cent today, it’s

still a figure most newspaper publishers would more than welcome.

Veldhuizen Van Zanten is 38 years old and has completed ten years at the

title, making him, as he himself jokes, one of the shortest-serving

managers at this traditionalist newspaper group.

Before landing a job at de Telegraaf, he worked at a whole range of more

entrepreneurial endeavours outside the media. ’I just sold anything I

could lay my hands on,’ he says. He started out at the group as a

salesman and progressed from there. ’The next year or so promises to be

one of the most eventful in my time here,’ he says. ’First of all, we

are going to launch a weekly TV listings guide for the first time,

having won a court case to break a 45-year-old monopoly.

’The second main change is that finally we are starting to attract some

brand advertising work from fmcg advertisers.’ For the Cubuco coalition

of Dutch newspaper groups, this represents a vindication of its

advertising strategy, which offered a single-buy page for fmcg

advertisers to promote their brand work. ’In the past, newspapers have

been used almost exclusively for price offers and promotions by fmcg

advertisers, but we have finally started to win some brand advertising

revenue, which is hugely encouraging.’


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