Leadership
Attention, Advertisers:
Are You Sure You Want to Place Your Ad There?

Finding the right media partners for your advertising dollars is a critical part of any brand’s market success. It’s a competitive landscape with new and traditional advertising mediums vying for consumer attention as well as your coveted marketing dollars. And for any brand that is a leader in sustainability, partnering with media outlets that complement your values and sustainability positioning is important.

Some automatically discount newspapers as a suitable advertising partner for a sustainable brand. After all, global newspapers consume massive volumes of paper — enough to circle the equator 30 times — and much of that fiber comes from ancient or endangered forests. However, more than 100 million Americans still read a daily newspaper — a slice of the market most brands can’t afford to miss. So how can leading brands balance the need to advertise to those millions of consumers who love the daily paper on their doorstep with the reality that newspaper consumption can be fuelling forest loss and potentially at odds with their brand’s own sustainability goals?

Place Your Ad Here, a report we recently released that profiles environmental leadership in the newspaper industry, can help solve that conundrum. It enables advertisers to identify newspaper partners that complement their sustainability goals and equips brands with clear criteria of what to look for in their media partners.

Of course, assessing demographics, circulation and cost are important when evaluating where your ad dollars should go. However, by adding sustainability criteria, print advertising dollars can advance your brand’s CSR goals while having a positive impact on forest conservation. For example, when we at Canopy, a Canadian environmental not-for-profit, recently placed campaign ads in the New York Times and The Globe and Mail, we did so with the knowledge that we were reinforcing, in a small way, their notable efforts for sustainability leadership.

Choosing the right newspaper for an ad buy secures more than just brand profile, demographic targets and column inches. It can help secure a future for the world’s most endangered forests and reinforce your own sustainability position.

Report helps advertisers find the balance

Canopy’s 2013 Place Your Ad Here report on the newspaper industry records and recognizes sustainability leaders and provides valuable insights for socially conscious brands.

Canopy reached out to the top 50 newspapers by circulation in Canada and the United States, as well as select local and international papers. The report highlights newspapers that have taken a leading role in developing and implementing environmental paper purchasing policies and acknowledges other leading-edge sustainability initiatives within the sector.

The report finds that although newspapers may be consumers of forests, they also can be champions for change. Visionary publishers are addressing the role newspapers can have in fostering forest conservation and catalyzing sustainable supply chains. In turn, their efforts provide you, the advertiser, with a more sustainable platform to get your message out.

In 2013, five major global newspaper companies updated and finalised their newsprint purchasing policy commitments. The Guardian, Torstar, The New York Times and the Tampa Bay Times joined industry leaders such as The Globe and Mail to implement change within their companies and advocate for change in our forests. Examples of noteworthy leadership include:

  • Torstar launched its new corporate-wide environmental principles in 2013, which covers diverse business divisions including the Toronto Star and Harlequin. Prominent is the company’s renewed commitment to post-consumer recycled fiber — with 65 percent of its purchase commitments for 2013 containing an average of 40 percent recycled fiber.
  • The Globe and Mail, with its long-standing sustainable paper mandate, engages its suppliers on conservation initiatives, supporting solutions in critical forest hotspots such as the Broadback Forest, a Boreal gem, and British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. The company’s chief executive officer is active in Canopy Club, a leading forum of CEOs supporting leadership on forest conservation.
  • The Guardian Newspaper and Media Group included a commitment in its policy to source a high proportion of recycled paper from mills in the UK to support the national recycling infrastructure.
  • The New York Times will avoid purchasing paper from intact, old-growth forests and controversial sources, including forests that form the habitat of threatened, endangered or imperilled species.
  • Hearst Newspapers is supporting the development of paper made from agricultural residue. While straw-based paper isn’t available in North America yet, the company’s encouragement will inevitably help speed the commercialisation of these papers.

Each company’s sustainability initiative is structured differently. But regardless of emphasis, all are helping to catalyze large-scale conservation initiatives and all have elements in common.

7 defining acts of leadership by global newspapers

1. Setting the direction — Has a paper purchasing policy with Canopy that sets the newspaper on a path to greater sustainability

2. Protecting forests — Is engaging their suppliers to advance conservation solutions for endangered forests

3. Raising fecycled — Is prioritizing the incorporation of recycled fiber into their papers and facilitating the collection of high quality recycled newspaper fiber via closed loop partnerships

4. Advancing sustainable forest management — Supports suppliers to adopt Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for their on the ground operations and if buying newsprint with virgin wood fibre, gives preference to FSC

5. Supporting eco-innovation — Helps drive R&D and commercial production of papers made with straw

6. Encouraging peers — Engages other publishers and supply chain partners to develop their own sustainability initiatives.

7. Accountability and transparency — Sets time bound milestones and publicly reports on progress each year.

Good ads showcase many things about the brands that place them. They creatively hook consumers. They sell product and they build brand capital. Advertising with like-minded publications ensures you are reaching like-minded customers in the most responsible way possible. Find out how your media partners are performing today.

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