Globe and Mail campaign boosts subscriptions, influences public policy

By Katrina Bolak

The Globe and Mail

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


We know the role journalism plays in society is crucial, as it has the power to change minds and change policy. The Globe and Mail’s journalism tackles this every day, broaching topics of political, economic, and social issues with the utmost integrity.

In our consumer marketing department, we look for opportunities to amplify this message and our journalists’ work. We aim to connect Canadian audiences that may not have had a touchpoint with our brand with the content that is important to them.

Drawing inspiration from this firmly held belief, “Journalism Matters” became the central message for a 10-month, multi-platform marketing campaign.

The Journalism Matters campaign highlighted The Globe and Mail's commitment to report on topics of political, economic, and social issues with integrity.
The Journalism Matters campaign highlighted The Globe and Mail's commitment to report on topics of political, economic, and social issues with integrity.

Our goal was to demonstrate the impact of Globe journalism on society, from individual experiences all the way up to governmental/policy change. We chose our highest impact journalism to feature in the campaign:

  • Robyn Doolittle’s 20-month investigation into how police forces across Canada handle sexual assault allegations, exposing deep flaws and inconsistencies within the system.

  • Kathy Tomlinson’s exposé on shadow flipping in Vancouver, a shady real estate practice that drives up home prices in one of Canada’s most expensive cities.

We wanted a dynamic campaign that could capitalise near real-time on changes to governmental policy when they happened. While we created the core of the campaign in advance, we developed flexible creative executions that could address changes as they occurred. To achieve this, we constantly monitored developments with all stories and, in response, placed creative on the appropriate platform.

This creative included:

  • Print ads that drew a direct correlation between a story breaking and the beginning of real change.

  • Cineplex ads in theatres across the country that highlighted the impact of this journalism from a first-person perspective.

  • Social posts, like Facebook slideshow ad units, to provide better background and context for complicated issues, and immersive ad unit experiences to help explain the focus of an investigation’s individual experience.

The campaign elicited a positive response from readers. We learned that the content could be positioned with new readers to create lasting relationships as subscribers.

Among subscriptions, 19% were driven by paid social media promoting editorial content that fell under the Journalism Matters campaign (and was not paywalled). Our existing subscriber community had a 12% increase in time spent with Journalism Matters content.

Beyond the marketing scope of the campaign, we also promoted stories like Unfounded to external media, which expanded our reach to more than 23 million impressions in earned media (often from competitive sites).

Journalism Matters highlighted the importance of our work to people across the country, but the greatest impact was the policy changes propelled by stories in the campaign. 

Our prime minister cited the Unfounded investigation and pledged action and C$100 million as part of a strategy to prevent gender-based violence. The federal government and Canadian military worked together to save soldiers from suicide. And the British Columbia provincial government unveiled new rules to limit real estate shadow flipping. These changes were a direct result of public pressure put on decision makers to change Canada for the better.

About Katrina Bolak

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