Our Simeon does tend to get about a bit, but we were still chuffed to see his face (or at least a strange, cartoonified rendition of it) in the first annual review from Newsworks.  The full title was ‘The story of newsbrands in 2014 and beyond’, so it was Simeon’s review, rather than his mugshot that we enjoyed most (honest!)

While we’ve become accustomed to feigning interest in what Simeon has to say, there were a number of infinitely wittier and more valuable contributors, such as Jeremy Bullmore, Amanda Rendle and Claire Beale.


Optimists 5: Cynics 0

We’re a cynical bunch us media agency types. And I’d have to accept any accusation of being more cynical than most. However, the review of a year is a time for the suspension of cynicism and the embracing of positive circumspection. A review of newsbrands’ year, particularly, has to be met with enormous positivity.

2014 amply demonstrated that there is a heck of a lot going on in the world of newsbrands. Outside of shaping the news agenda, there’s lots of commercial goings on for agency folk to get excited about.

Arguably, a little late to the party on trumpeting the social augmentation enjoyed by the medium, but currently newsbrands are exploring and benefiting better than most. Free titles and formats continue to bring in new and younger audiences, digital iterations bring ever increasing ways to add texture and interest to campaigns – as well as truncating that consumer journey.

Media owners continue to test and learn with different commercial models; paid-for, pay-walled, metered, freemium and free. And digital revenue increases more than offset print revenues so, for the most part, revenues are on the up. All very understandable, encouraging and befitting of a growing and dynamic sector.

But, as always, the most important thing, from an agency (planner’s) perspective, is the work. Again, a year where particularly encouraging signs of creative ambition and dynamism ambition abound.

When media award ceremonies were dominated by mention of the LEGO ad break it was gratifying as a reader, judge and planner to see so many campaigns use newsbrands for fame creation – not traditionally a stronghold rationale for the medium. Particularly gratifying was that many of these campaigns did so without resorting to the now ubiquitous cover wrap.

The launch of the PS4 and its ‘Sorry Rosie’ ousting of The Sun’s Page 3 girl was imaginative, cheeky and topical (even if the ongoing controversy surrounding the existence of Page 3 models isn’t such a hot topic for your average gamer). I loved the ambition of this and the fact that it matched the endeavour and talking point media moments created in other channels.

I’m a massive fan of Paddy Power’s marketing generally, but the Rainbow Laces takeover of Metro and the involvement of almost all advertisers in the paper really elevated the edition, the execution and the cause beyond anything a single format (cover wrap or homepage takeover very much included) could achieve.

Across the year there were a number of great campaigns that combined impactful, digital formats with playful interaction or prompt to purchase. HBO’s campaign for Game of Thrones allowing box set purchase from the second the season finale ended; Channel 4’s launch of The Taste allowing readers to play with the talent and idea of the show, in-ad, as well as drop a programme reminder in their calendars; and First Direct allowing readers to play with their Hissy Lizard in digital formats to reinforce the bank’s quirky persona.

All of these campaigns not only demonstrated compelling evidence of positive commercial effect, but that media creativity and planning ambition are alive and well within the medium of newsbrands. You could agree, as I do, this is encouraging demonstration of the sector’s dynamism.

Or you could disagree – and remain a cynical sod.

So, if you didn’t manage to grab a copy with last week’s Campaign then drop Liz an email over at Newsworks on Liz.Jaques@newsworks.org.uk