Newspapers use social media to say 'Smart is the New Sexy'

Can reading up on current events make you sexy? The Newspaper Association of America thinks so.

Story highlights

  • Newspaper Association of America has a new ad campaign to raise newspaper awareness
  • NAA CEO says the campaign is using social media platforms to spark a "national dialogue"
  • Campaign is aims to generate tweets, Facebook posts and videos from consumers
  • Three ads will run for six weeks in more than 1,000 member newspapers, digitally and in print
Marissa Tarabocchia, a student at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, says she doesn't subscribe to any newspapers. Instead, she gets her news from the Web.
"I can go [online] and find out what's happening in a matter of minutes," she says. "It's definitely more convenient and accessible -- and fast, easy and free."
Print newspaper subscriptions have declined for years as younger readers increasingly turn to digital sources for news. And surveys have shown that more younger readers are getting their news not through traditional news sites, but from Facebook and Twitter. That is why Tarabocchia is exactly the type of reader newspapers are trying to seduce with a saucy new marketing campaign.
Dubbed "Smart is the New Sexy," the campaign by the Newspaper Association of America seeks to promote the value of newspapers through several digital and social media outlets. The campaign encourages consumers to share their personal connection to newspapers through the papers' Facebook and Twitter accounts -- with the hashtag #smartsexy -- to spark conversations online.
That's right: Newspapers, threatened by emerging technologies, are now learning how to embrace them.
"We want to generate a national dialogue about the value of newspaper media," said Cheryl Sadowski, vice president of communications for the NAA. "We're doing this by asking consumers their thoughts on how being smart can be attractive."
The "Smart is the New Sexy" catchphrase promotes the idea that gaining knowledge from reading newspapers makes people more attractive -- as an NAA tagline explains, "because a little depth looks great on you."
Three different ads will run for six weeks in more than 1,000 member newspapers, digitally and in print.
The campaign launches at a time when more Americans are reading news online. Traffic to newspaper websites was up 20% in September from a year ago, according to Internet tracking firm comScore.
"The newspaper brand remains very strong in the hearts and minds of consumers," Caroline Little, NAA president and CEO, said in a statement. "The campaign speaks to the many reasons people value their newspapers, and to the various platforms through which newspapers deliver that value."
Early reaction to the Smart/Sexy campaign, which some see as a desperate attempt to reinvigorate a struggling industry, has been mostly positive.
"It made me laugh when I first read it," said Stephanie Taylor, a senior at Oklahoma State University. "The saying 'sex sells' has always proven to be true. Even though it isn't selling sex per se, the word 'sex' in and of itself will attract young people. Once you draw them in with the catchphrase and they read what it is really about, then it will get them thinking."
To create more consumer engagement, the campaign also encourages readers to submit videos about what their newspapers mean to them. The best ones are showcased on NAA's YouTube and Facebook pages.
"As long we can spark a conversation and get a national dialogue, that's all we hope to expect," Little said.