Stuck on the daily news: Post-it Notes a new wave in advertising - Notebook
Arthur Tolar uses Post-it Notes like most other people--putting notices on contracts or using them as to-do lists--but he never thought he would use the sticky notes to advertise.
But on Oct. 1 he did.
Daily newspaper subscribers to The Advocate walked outside and picked up their morning papers. Sticking to the front page, they found a yellow 3-inch-by-3-inch Post-it Note advertising Tolar's Discount Cigarette and Beverage Co. covering a portion of page one.
The Advocate has been using sticky ads for two months, flirting with a long-time newspaper taboo against advertisements on the front page.
Tolar has no qualms about the gimmick. He was eager to give the new marketing strategy a try.
"I thought it was just a great idea. They told me 3M was involved, and they're a great company, so I jumped on the bandwagon. It was the single most expensive ad I've done up to now, but it's a little too early to tell if it's working," he said.
Tolar paid $7,000 for the two-color ad. He used the Post-it Note as a "no-clip coupon" for a free fountain drink, a free cigarette lighter or a 99-cent pack of smokes.
Advocate salesperson Lisa Ferrell heads up the Post-it Note ad sales.
"It's starting to get more and more calls every day, and it's helping secure more contracts. We're the first paper in the state to start this, and we're really getting the groundswell. We're taking orders into next year for them," she said.
Ferrell says C.J. Brown has bought ads, as has a local satellite company. Recently, The Advocate was even using the Post-it Notes for a spot advertising its own classifieds.
Ferrell says the ads can run any day of the week, in any zone or combination of zones, and the price is based on cost per thousand.
3M Worldwide produces Post-it Notes. Tolar says he was told that the company actually prints the Post-it Notes for The Advocate.
"That's the way it was sold to me. 3M is involved in this and they do all the printing, as I understand it," he said.
Another issue is: should a newspaper "sell" the front page? Traditionally, page one is reserved for news only, although a few publications in the U.S. and abroad have been known to sell the premium spot to advertisers.
Bill Dickenson, former writer for The Washington Post Writers Group and Manship Chair professor at LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication, sees the yellow note as a "small transgression," not a big deal.
"It can be easily removed from the paper. Other papers wrap their delivered publications in bags covered with ads, and newspapers abroad sell the front page," he said.
George Lockwood, former managing editor of The Milwaukee Journal and now a visiting professor at the Manship School, said he's "not as shocked as I should be.
"You have to ask yourself what harm is done. Does it take valuable space from the front page? Probably not. Is it an irritant to the reader? Maybe. Is it a journalistic practice I endorse? Probably not.
"What comes next is the big question," Lockwood said. "If this thing is 3-by-3, then what about 6-by-6? This could lead to something more serious--I know, for one, I wouldn't want my story to be covered up by a Post-it Note."