NNA concerned about AmEx ad buy award

December 10, 2013

By Tonda F. Rush

CEO | NNA

COLUMBIA, MO—The National Newspaper Association has opened a new discussion with American Express, founder of the popular Small Business Saturday campaign, about the level of involvement of America’s community newspapers, said NNA President Robert M. Williams Jr., publisher of the Blackshear (GA) Times.

Small Business Saturday began three years ago to complement Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Its goal has been to encourage shoppers to patronize small businesses. Organizers claim that as of 2012, 67 percent of consumers were aware of SBS and that $5.5 billion in consumer spending with small businesses occurred last year.

NNA, which is composed largely of newspapers that are small businesses themselves and serve many of the nation’s small retailers, began a partnership in the campaign in 2011. The association has encouraged its members to support the campaign and to emphasize Small Business Saturday in their own Thanksgiving week promotions. Materials to support SBS have been distributed to NNA members and have been available on the association’s website.

NNA last year expressed concern, however, that not enough of the campaign’s media buy was reaching America’s smaller communities or the newspapers that serve them. This year, the association’s concerns reached new levels when American Express announced users of its Business Gold Rewards card could receive extra award points with advertising expenditures—but only for ads on radio, TV and online.

“The omission of community newspapers is a slight to our industry, particularly given NNA’s partnership in the program, so we have objected,” said Williams. “I’m pleased American Express has listened to our concerns and has committed to seeking more understanding of the role community newspapers play and consider a better marketing approach.”

“Small Business Saturday promotions say small businesses are “the corner stores that create jobs, the hardware stores that help build our economy. And the mom and pop shops whose very presence makes a neighborhood, your neighborhood.’ That’s true. And community newspapers are the medium these very businesses use to promote their retail growth. We are also small businesses. We understand what makes these communities tick.”

Williams said the dialogue with American Express has just begun, but he feels confident the company wants to better serve America’s small businesses, including community newspapers.

“We have a lot of work to do to explain to this Fortune 100 company how the communities outside major cities feed into the national economy. We know NNA is uniquely positioned to take on this task,” he said. “We are looking forward to a rich and continuing conversation well into 2014.”

tonda@nna.org

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