For the 30-year-old Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 6 was an historic day — a relaunch for this newspaper with a strong tradition of authoritative and investigative journalism as part of a multi-platform media company.

The 2016 marketing campaign is the biggest campaign the Inquirer has launched. I was honoured to be invited to guide the Inquirer team through the process, to conduct a series of workshops that would take what was until then a much print-driven newspaper, to go for storytelling across the media quintet: smartwatch, smartphone, online, print, and tablet.

For 18 months, the team of the Inquirer and I worked to make sure that the important elements of journalism, design, technology, and marketing/advertising could come together to create the modern newspaper for the digital age.

The effective, people-oriented relaunch campaign helped reposition Philippine Daily Inquirer as the go-to brand across all platforms: print, mobile, tablet, PC, and even smartwatch.
The effective, people-oriented relaunch campaign helped reposition Philippine Daily Inquirer as the go-to brand across all platforms: print, mobile, tablet, PC, and even smartwatch.

Today, the Inquirer is not just on the breakfast table, but on mobile devices, on PCs, and on the watch readers adjust on their wrist on the way to work.

Research shows many readers consult two to three platforms in the course of a day: They may start their day looking at headlines on their smartphone, but then grab a copy of the print newspaper while having coffee, and then turn to the PC to read the Inquirer online edition at work.

Advertisers like print, but they are also moving fast to digital platforms, where especially Millennials — those readers 25-35 years old — tend to gravitate.

According to the Global Digital Media Trendbook 2015, digital media continues to escalate to the number one ad spend category worldwide, following surges in mobile, video, and social media usage patterns.

With all the work that went into the Inquirer relaunch, it was important to tell everyone about the transformation of the Inquirer. That’s why the role of marketing was key.  

A model for marketing a relaunch

Chief Marketing Officer Charmaine Bautista-Pamintuan and her team made sure they understood every detail of our rethink project for the Inquirer.

In fact, I don’t recall a single workshop or meeting in which my Garcia Media team and I participated that did not include her and members of her team. They absorbed the many ideas that became part of this relaunch.

The goal of the project was to take a deep look at how the Inquirer presented news, and to come up with solutions and new approaches.

The powerful "day in a life" campaign depicted ordinary people and celebrities using Philippine Daily Inquirer in different contexts. This approach effectively targeted three very different audience groups, while still having a unified message and design.
The powerful "day in a life" campaign depicted ordinary people and celebrities using Philippine Daily Inquirer in different contexts. This approach effectively targeted three very different audience groups, while still having a unified message and design.

A visual evaluation was also part of the project, leading to a redesign that unified the various platforms visually.

For Charmaine and her team, the task was gigantic, as it is for news media marketing teams everywhere, and raised important questions:

  • How can we revisit our existing audiences and get them excited about what is new in an established product?
  • How can the Inquirer attract Millennials, those coveted young readers that tend to read on mobile devices and show little loyalty to a single news brand?
  • How about advertisers, present and future? How could the campaign impress upon them that a modular positioning of ads would give their messages a better forum?

Charmaine’s audiences goals were three-fold:

  1. Protecting the mature adults and empty nesters already faithful to the Inquirer.
  2. Regaining readers who had abandoned the Inquirer for more than a year.
  3. Acquiring those new readers who barely recognised the Inquirer brand or had never tried it.

A people-oriented campaign

Once the targets for the campaign were defined, it was Charmaine’s task to consider the creative aspects of how to present the new product. That led to the “day in a life” concept, which profiles people from different walks of life that engage with any of the platforms of the Inquirer.

We had emphasised the power of storytelling through our workshops, and Charmaine seized upon it.

“Everyone has a story to tell,” Charmaine said. “Everyone engages with information in different platforms, in varying degrees of engagement — whether through a quick glance or in a long form narrative — but what is truly inspiring is the spirit of the men and women behind the Inquirer and their passion for the Inquirer.”

She secured ordinary people and celebrities to tell their stories and how they related to the Inquirer. That’s is how the ambassadors came into play. Print spots heralded urged readers to “experience the most engaging Inquirer yet.”

The campaign culminated with a gala event and trade show that drew a diverse audience, including key advertisers, celebrities, and other media outlets.
The campaign culminated with a gala event and trade show that drew a diverse audience, including key advertisers, celebrities, and other media outlets.

It was decided the actual campaign would not start until the newspaper relaunched. But Charmaine’s team started an internal launch campaign the week before, posting social media teaser lines, placing banners throughout the building, and eventually displaying giant screens hanging from the walls of the Inquirer building.

It was all a celebration of the Inquirer’s effort to present news across five platforms.

Finally, a series of public events introduced the new Inquirer, culminating in a gala function/trade show attended by top financial, advertising, media, and culture personalities in the Philippines.

This was one of the most splendid and successful marketing campaigns I ever participated in. Collaboration and leadership were key to the project.

As Charmaine said, “It could not have been possible if not with the support of our CEO, Sandy Prieto Romualdez, who believed that the Filipinos deserved to see their Inquirer in a whole new light — content and design that is on par with global standards while keeping the heart and soul of the Inquirer at its core.”

The proof of the success of a campaign is in how it creates awareness for the new product. Based on the calls received, especially from new readers requesting the start of a subscription to the Inquirer, the marketing campaign hit a chord with the audience.