The Economist Dives Deep Into Collegiate Targeting

The Economist dared college students to dive deeper into its content, rather than rely solely on surface-level headlines and tweets, in its new Dare 2 Go Deep digital campaign.

“We, of course, love social media. We all use social media [and] we have a huge presence on social media at The Economist. There’s nothing wrong with it,” says Dayna De Simone, the Economist’s director of brand communications for the Americas. “But when you do find something interesting, compelling, [or] something that peaks your curiosity, you need to actually click the link, read more, learn more, and challenge yourself to learn what’s going on.”

To raise brand awareness and override misconceptions that The Economist only provides content related to the economy, The Economist teamed up with creative agency Atmosphere Proximity and delivered content to its collegiate audiences in channels that they visit. For example, the Economist posted content on social sharing site BuzzFeed, a site popular with millennials. The Economist also hosted a live on-campus college “takeover” in which MTV host Sara Schaefer led a spoof book discussion. For the spoof, comedian Gavin McInnes played a fake author promoting his book Skim It 2 Win It who was suddenly interrupted by comedian JB Smoove barging into the discussion to tell students to diver deeper into content. The brand also launched a mobile optimized campaign website featuring articles from the Economist, a live Twitter feed, a current events quiz, and videos from the campus takeover. The videos have generated 1.1 million views, and have an 85% total play through rate, says De Simone.

“We thought it was an opportunity to speak to the college students using online video and social media, which is the way that they’re communicating,” De Simone says.

De Simone says the Economist decided to target this demographic because, based on the brand’s research, college is the time most readers discover the publication and is a period of exploration. She adds that the brand decided to run the campaign from April to mid-June to coincide with the end of the academic year.

Although the campaign encourages students to read past the news tweets, De Simone argues that social media still plays an important role in the media industry, including driving engagement. For example, Economist readers will share their opinion when a story, such as a controversial debate, is posted on the brand’s social networks, De Simone says. In fact, the Economist has more than 1.5 million Facebook likes and more than 3.3 million followers. And while she encourages media companies to be where their readers are, she urges them to not let social media get in the way of their brand identities.

“Just because people are using Twitter to find out what’s going on in the world, doesn’t mean that your news story has to be compressed to 140 characters. It’s a lead. It’s something that will pull people to want to find out what the full story is,” she explains. “Just staying true to yourself and staying true to the mission of your brand is what’s most important.”

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