Two weeks after the June 2016 historic Brexit referendum, Archant launched a new newspaper called The New European for the 48% “remain” voters.
At Archant, we felt that the referendum had left a huge swath of the county — the 48% — feeling disenfranchised, confused about the future, and without a galvanising voice to represent their views. This was a new community formed overnight, not along political lines, but through a shared affinity to Europeans and Europe.
Our view was that there was an opportunity for a media brand to fill this void. The product we envisaged would be non-political, high quality, and premium priced. But we had to move quickly. Every day that passed saw the shock dissipate a little more, as the “new normal” became more normal.
To execute this quickly, we came up with the concept of “pop-up” publishing with the idea that we initially would commit to publish just four issues of The New European. After that, every issue would be a referendum on the next.
We did this because we thought the opportunity would be a temporary one, and it seemed like a great way to quantify and mitigate our own exposure. The pop-up publishing concept allowed us to cap our risk, and ensured we would have what we called an “elegant exit” when demand subsided.
So the plan, hatched on June 28, was approved internally the next day, and The New European was published for the first time on Friday, July 8, just nine frantic days later.
Our marketing budget for the project was set at next to nothing, and our strategy in the time available was to concentrate on two things:
- Create as much noise as possible through PR, social, and our other owned channels.
- Be as widely available at retail as possible.
Sunday night saw the first announcement via BuzzFeed. Monday morning saw the story attract huge interest across both trade and consumer media, which continued until our Friday on-sale date.
Over the course of the campaign to launch the product, there were more than 30 media interviews, plus 111 articles generating 15 million opportunities to see. The marketing team banged the drum via social, paid, and organic; a Web site was created; and subscriptions were sold.
Retail was another success. In the beginning, the product featured in 17,000 retail outlets across the UK with almost all major retailers stocking it — concentrated on areas of the country that had voted most strongly in favour of Remain.
We are now more than three months in, and the initial four-week run beat circulation forecasts. Feedback on the product has been almost universally positive, from its design and agenda-setting stories, to the quality of contributors (Alistair Campbell, Richard Branson, Howard Jacobson to name a few).
Distribution has been widened and we are now in 40,000 retailers across the UK (and some in Europe too).
What’s next? We don’t know at this stage. The New European has been a significant success for Archant, and will continue as long as it is wanted. Now we have a proven model in pop-up publishing and a renewed hunger for similar levels of innovation.