Fast Front Pages

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There are few tougher briefs an agency can receive than to help turnaround an industry whose fate seems sealed. UM’s task was to increase the print circulations of News Limited newspapers (Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and Courier Mail) in a marketplace declining on average 9% per year.

Despite all the doom and gloom, newspapers continue to set the daily agenda for other media. The daily headlines are discussed in morning TV programmes around the country, the editors themselves are high profile media personalities, and newspapers are still very much the home of investigative journalism.

The brand insight: Although their circulations are declining, News Limited newspapers continue to set the daily agenda for other media. This led to UM’s hypothesis: if it could remind consumers of the agenda-setting relevance of newspapers every morning it could boost the flagging sales.


As anyone that works on a news floor knows, the daily headline is the most hotly debated piece of editorial. The Murdoch Empire itself was built on catchy one-liners tantalising us to buy a copy and find out more. Yet “read all about it” headlines aren’t shouted to us from the streets these days. Nowadays unless you have a newspaper delivered to your home, or pop into a newsagent or petrol station you might never even see one. Newspapers are disappearing from people’s daily lives, replaced by other news source like websites and social media. The consumer insight was both simple and directional: headlines sell News Limited newspapers but people rarely see them anymore.

UM set out to demonstrate the agenda setting relevance of newspapers. Every. Single. Day. To do this it convinced News Limited to think about their business differently. Headlines and front pages would no longer be the sole domain of the editorial teams; they would be pieces of advertising with a limited lifespan of 12 hours.

The Idea: Fast Front Pages. The front page of News Limited newspapers posted across hundreds of outdoor sites by 6am, every day, for eight weeks. This would be the most innovative and logistically complex outdoor campaign ever attempted.

The bravery of the idea was matched by the bravery of the client in agreeing to it. News Ltd diverted a massive 50% of its marketing budget to establishing dedicated outdoor print facilities and installation teams in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane. It was forced to make significant concessions in areas previously considered essential and ‘off limits’, like retail promotions and TV advertising.

So whilst simple, Fast Front Pages not only challenged the long-established ways of using and buying outdoor, it also broke the conventions of a famously conservative category.


For the idea to work UM had to convince News Limited to change the way it had worked for decades. The agency not only persuaded the editorial team to change headlines to suit outdoor panels but created a new process that worked like clockwork, night after night.

To reach morning commuters it set a deadline of 6am for all panels to be installed. Newsrooms set the front page about 10pm each night. By 11pm each evening artwork was electronically despatched by each newsroom to the print facility located in their state. That left seven hours to print and install 370 posters across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. There was no instruction manual to follow. To deliver Fast Front Pages UM developed a bespoke operating system.

First it established dedicated digital printing facilities in each city. Each poster takes an average of five minutes to produce. In larger markets like Sydney it would have taken more than 11 hours to produce the required 135 posters; printing had to be completed within four. The agency commissioned additional printers in each facility to hit the deadlines.

Next it hired its own crack team of installers which ensured 100% of all posters were installed across three cities by 6am. Fifteen installers in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane collected the posters at 3am each morning and posted 370 sites in just three hours. By 6am a new headline sat in all the outdoor panels. This process took place every single day for eight weeks.


Over the campaign period UM produced a massive 14,400 posters – each individually printed and installed. Most importantly, the simple but powerful idea led to outstanding results. For the first time in two years News Limited newspapers enjoyed circulation growth of 8% - equating to revenue growth of approximately $36m.

In some instances sales in newsagents located near outdoor sites grew by a whopping 25%. Feedback from advertisers and media agencies was resoundingly positive. Many stated that newspapers were “back on the radar”.

Bill Athanassiou, Sales Director of JCDecaux said, “This is the most innovative outdoor campaign we’ve seen.  It is the first time in the world a campaign this ambitious has ever been attempted, let alone pulled off.”

‘Fast Front Pages’ broke all traditional rules of outdoor and used the medium in a new and powerful way.  The innovative idea fundamentally changed the way outdoor is used and bought, touching everything from the deadlines and the production process to despatch and installation.

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News Corp Australia
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March - April 2013
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