Newspaper Advertising - The Creative Potential: Aides - France

BACKGROUND

This ad ran in December 2002 in the obituary pages of just one newspaper, Liberation, the country's leading left-wing national daily. The client, a French non-governmental organisation called Aides, aims to communicate its message in surprising and clever ways.

It does not have much money to spend on advertising, but it can do a job that the French government would not - and does so in its own tone of voice.

TBWA\Paris has held the Aides account since 2001. It has worked on a no-fee basis on campaigns designed to tackle prejudice, to emphasise the need to take preventative measures, to involve people in the situation in Africa and to promote awareness of Aids generally.

The agency recognised that the Liberation ad would reach an influential audience in an intellectual environment. The ad fitted in with the paper's editorial ambition to make people think differently.

TBWA\Paris has a superb recent record for creativity in press advertising.

Having won the press Grand Prix twice at Cannes in the past five years, it has produced notable campaigns for clients including Sony PlayStation and EMI. The agency's president and creative director, Erik Vervroegen, spent four years in South Africa working with the agency TBWA\Hunt Lascaris, another renowned creative agency that has produced much award-winning press work.

Vervroegen believes the secret of a successful print ad is to provoke - the image has to grab people's attention. Newspapers' strength is that they can offer all the values of news: they are direct, impactful, shocking and informative.

Liberation, which was founded by Jean-Paul Sartre, has a circulation of just fewer than 150,000 copies, but reaches opinion-formers. Its right-wing rival, Le Figaro, and the leading national daily, Le Monde, both have circulations of more than 300,000 copies. However, the newspaper market in France is skewed towards the regionals, the biggest-circulating daily being Ouest France.

In the past few years, many of the established French newspapers have suffered falling sales. But 2005 has been a year of investment for the national dailies, which are installing new technologies and launching products. Various successful free dailies have also brought some fresh vigour to the French newspaper scene.

REVIEW - Stephane Xiberras creative director, BETC Euro RSCG

In France, the daily press isn't doing very well in general. Circulations and the number of pages read per day have been falling for the past 20 years. Even the regional daily press, a circulation stronghold,has seen the number of its readers erode.

However, at the same time, the daily press continues to be used as a substitute for TV for brand advertising campaigns. This is, I think, a peculiarity of the French daily press and is an excellent opportunity for our creative teams.

This situation partly arises for legal reasons that are typically French: the advertising on the main and public TV channels is subject to a quota, so brand advertisers need to use other media. It can also be explained by the good behaviour of our newspapers in relation to the quality of the product (paper, printing) and the editorial content, for example, when compared with the English tabloids.

But there also exists another not inconsiderable factor: the importance of using a medium with which the reader has a very particular relationship.

Each morning, a reader finds in "his" newspaper the columns, editorial style and layout that make him prefer this particular title to any other.

Following on from this, I find campaigns that are built into the paper's very layout are highly pertinent because they succeed in disrupting the reader's habitual perusal of the columns.

An example of this is an ad for Aides that was published in Liberation.

The idea was to take over the obituary page; instead of the usual reading of a deceased list, we read a "not-deceased" notice. A text at the bottom of the page explains simply: "The only way to stop Aids is you."

I can imagine the reader's surprise as he scans the obituary column in a distracted way, then suddenly notices that things are not quite as they should be.

CREDITS Client: Aides Agency: TBWA\Paris Writer: Veronique Sels Art director: Marie Noorbergen Creative director: Erik Vervroegen