Hot off the press: The Globe redesign (part 1)

In the first of this three-part strategy magazine feature, MiC associate editor Katie Bailey looks at the Globe and Mail redesign, and how Canada's national newspapers are rising to the challenges of an increasingly digital world.

Today, the Globe and Mail unveiled its dramatic redesign to the public, featuring a new 11-inch format and glossy pages. Supported by a multimedia campaign, a redesigned homepage, a new Globe Life website and a flashy redesign-themed insert for Audi in today’s issue, the redesign is ‘a signal to readers and advertisers that the Globe is fully committed to excellence,’ Globe publisher Phillip Crawley said in a release. In the following exerpt from strategy magazine, MiC associate editor Katie Bailey looks at the motivation behind the redesign, and in the following two parts, examines how Canada’s national newspaper landscape is changing, and how our national newspapers are rising to the challenge.

Hot off the press: Part 1

In the midst of the one-two punch of 2009′s ‘Great Recession’ and the storm of media innovation that surged up alongside it, print was suddenly looking like a perilous medium: 150-year-old newspapers were closing in the U.S., the iPad was still a closely guarded secret and advertisers were pulling ads in droves thanks to plunging revenues.

In this bleak period, Phillip Crawley, publisher of the Globe and Mail, had good cause to feel nervous. Three years prior, in the still-sunny economic heyday of 2006, the Globe and its printer, Transcontinental, had entered into an 18-year agreement that involved the purchase of cutting-edge new presses that would be the impetus for a radical redesign of the newspaper.

Little did anyone know how much would change in the bitter months of 2009 and early 2010: mobile crystallized into an exciting and viable new medium, the mystical iPad finally became real and social media firmly planted its roots as the medium of choice for young people. It’s a brave new media world out there, but the Globe and Mail is approaching it head-on, sporting the latest cosmetics and draped in Tiffany necklaces. Look out, ladies.

Founded in the mid-1800s, today’s Globe and Mail still has daily news reportage and an ink-on-paper format in common with its 19th century self. But the paper that appears on readers’ doorsteps this month is a much different product than the Globe has ever put forth.

Launched Oct. 1, the ‘new’ Globe has four paper-stock options, all of which can be printed in the same run on a single press. (Although most issues will likely only feature two stocks at a time.) The jewel of the new presses is the high-gloss stock; resembling a newspaper page only in shape, the premium stock looks and feels like a magazine. There is also a slightly thinner, more matte version of the glossy stock – both considered premium on the rate card – as well as bright-white and standard newsprint.

The glossy pages have a transformational effect, taking a plain Jane newspaper ad or layout and turning it into a fancy magazine-quality spread.

‘You would want one of those, wouldn’t you?’ Crawley asks, grinning and pushing a glossy eggshell-blue page featuring fancy Tiffany necklaces across the table.

‘That’s the kind of standard that we want to get in the newspaper, both from an editorial design point of view and an advertising point of view. We want to show them that newspapers are capable of doing things that previously only magazines could do,’ he says.

A full-page sample ad for Vichy cosmetics draws another grin from Crawley. The L’Oréal brand is traditionally a magazine advertiser, but the new format opens up more clients for the Globe, Andrew Saunders, VP of ad sales, explains.

‘We’re positioning ourselves to be a very strong alternative to both the magazine sector and the broadcast sector in catering to that audience,’ he says.

The audience to which Saunders refers is an advertisers’ grail: young professionals with enough income to buy swanky consumer goods.

A goal of the flashy new redesign, Saunders says, is to build upon last year’s eight percent increase in the Globe’s female audience.

Catering directly to that crowd will be the new Globe Style section in the Weekend edition. Completely redesigned to resemble a magazine, the new section will focus more on fashion and lessso on the more mum-and-dadsy foodie content. Other editorial and stylistic changes include a new look for the front page and a new feature in the news section on the weekend that will be printed on the semi-gloss stock.

Shiny and happy as the new paper may be, it’s undeniable that both readers and advertisers are increasingly interested in digital content, which brings us to another important point in the evolution of newspapers in the digital age: reach across dayparts.

Hot off the press: part 2