News, Breaking On Your Coffee Cup

Zouch, July 2, 2012.

Newspapers are in the coffin. Print media is dead. Ink is over.

This refrain has become like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Keep chanting it any number of times, and it may become actually come true.

There are opposition forces, however, which wouldn’t want it to become a reality. As you may have guessed, it’s the newspaper industry and they’re hitting back with novel marketing campaigns to counter that refrain.

Gulf News, the leading English-language daily of the United Arab Emirates, which is widely read in the Arab world, wanted its readers to think of newspapers as they sipped their morning coffee—but not in the expected way.

In our social media-saturated culture, where news is more “Liked” and shared than earnestly read, the best bet the print media has of survival is to serve its editorial content in small, bite-size nuggets.

Tim Horton’s coffee cup sleeve with a Twitter headline.

So, the publication teamed up with the Canadian coffee shop chain, Tim Hortons, to create unique, social media-flavored coffee cups that carried the paper’s Twitter headlines of the hour.

While customers waited in line for their lattes and espressos, a compact printer plucked out 140-character bulletins from the Gulf News Twitter feed and poured out the news onto the paper sleeves.

When consumers levitated their smartphone cameras over the QR codes, it took them to the full-length article, on the paper’s Web site.

The advertising brew hit the spot. Until March, this year, 840,000 sleeves had disseminated 1,440 tweets, gaining the daily over 2,900 new followers and pumping up traffic to its Web site by 41 percent.

But—how effective has the little blue bird been in making papers fly off the stands? It may be something to mull over.

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