Keeping subscribers on the same page

In 2008, amid a worsening economy and declining revenues, the New York Times looked to shore up its existing subscriber base. Thinkso’s “I subscribe” campaign reiterates the tremendous value of a Times subscription — by emphasizing the emotional connection that drew each subscriber to the paper in the first place. We designed a reintroduction kit, complete with account info and a list of benefits, to make it easy for the subscriber to take full advantage of their subscription. Login pages, digital communications, and even the plastic home delivery bag served to reinforce and diversify the message, celebrating the subscriber’s unique relationship with the Times.

BACKGROUND

A subscription to the New York Times is so much more than just a newspaper showing up on your porch, in your mailbox, or at the office. It includes a ton of other perks and unique offers, including access to digital archives and photo libraries, as well as other online resources. But in a down economy, subscribers often only see the expense — and if they don’t have their account info handy (who does?), it’s easy enough for them to neglect their subscription. As lapsed accounts piled up, the Times looked to Thinkso to develop a campaign that would help stabilize their base.

“​To its constituents, the New York Times isn’t just a source for news. The brand is tied to subscribers’ personal philosophies, global points of view, and even their individual identities.” Brett Traylor, Senior Partner, Thinkso

APPROACH

Beyond the paper’s strength of journalism, reputation for quality, or even its industry-leading 125 Pulitzers, people who subscribe to the New York Times have other, very personal, reasons for doing so. Times subscribers tend to be more independent-minded and progressive than most. They see in their newspaper a kindred spirit — one that reflects their lifestyle, fuels their identity, and informs their opinions. So instead of trying to itemize and quantify the “what you get” in a subscription, we focused on the “who you are” as a New York Times subscriber. We developed a series of strong, dynamic statements that the subscriber could identify with on a personal level, using them to start, continue, or re-start the conversation.

RESULT

The campaign helped stem the tide of those leaving, and together with the launch of new digital products and an aggressive subscriber acquisition campaign also developed by Thinkso, subscription rates began to steadily climb again.

Economically designed reintroduction kits were sent to all subscribers. In addition to making the case for staying as a subscriber, the kits listed benefits and provided account access information—on a refrigerator magnet—so that every subscriber would always have what they’d need to take full advantage of their subscription.

Campaign messaging appeared on digital applications such as login screens and subscriber email communications.

The iconic rolled-up newspaper in its plastic bag was a low-cost, high-impact application for reaching subscribers.