So newspapers live and die by their advertising. And they have to strike a balance. They want to put out big ads that bring in a lot of revenue, but they also need to keep the ads subtle so readers will actually want to read the paper. As time has gone on they’ve come up with new forms of advertising, like inserts, and even extended ads to the plastic bag the paper comes in. You especially see this around the holidays, like the day after Thanksgiving, the bag will be coated in ads. But today the Nevada Appeal pulled a new one, one I’ve never seen before.
General Mills must have done a huge ad buy, because my newspaper this morning came with two boxes of cereal! Tucked away into a pouch on the outside of the bag were sample size boxes of Fiber One and Multi-Grain Cheerios. I don’t think everybody got them, because the paper at my office was just sitting on the front porch unwrapped. But at my house, the paper was in the box at the curb, complete with breakfast.
Now, as a one-time thing, this is a real novelty. It certainly got my attention, and although I’ll probably never buy the cereals at the store there’s a good chance I’ll toss them into a bowl with some milk later on. So it was an interesting stunt, and maybe a few people around town will go out and buy a box of Fiber One because of it. But what happens if this becomes common? Today it’s cereal, but if it catches on will we have to look forward to other free samples in our newspaper bag? Toothpaste? Shampoo? Perfume? Diapers? When does it start to piss us off so much that we consider canceling our subscription? And what about the waste? How many of these boxes will just be tossed in the trash, unopened, which represents a waste both of the food that will go uneaten and the cardboard that won’t be recycled? This could be a bad precedent, so I urge everyone not to go out and buy a box of Fiber One today. Even if you normally buy it, try something else this time. We sure don’t want to encourage this kind of behavior.
Also, I would have loved to be there this morning when the delivery drivers arrived to pick up their bundle of papers.
Update: We have the Sunflower Group to thank for this.