Friday, June 15, 2001

Pizza ad raises
eyebrows,causes a stir

Tongues were set wagging yesterday by a Domino's Pizza advertisement on the front page of the Honolulu Advertiser. All 98 Gannett Co. Inc. dailies now offer a portion of the front page for sale -- it started with USA Today in 1999.

Gannett Public Affairs and Government Relations Director Tara Connell said the ads are sold at a premium rate.

Dave Franks, marketing director for advertiser Higa Industries Hawaii Inc., which does business as Domino's Pizza Hawaii, declined to reveal the rate the company paid.

"As you know," he said, "there's so much clutter in newspaper, radio and television that as an advertiser we were really looking for a unique, breakthrough idea."

Franks said it was the first time they became aware that this type of ad "even exists as a tool" in a major daily, so when offered the opportunity, the company went for it.

Asked about the response he'd received, Franks said marketing colleagues were saying, "Wow."

Advertiser President and Publisher Mike Fisch said the pizza ad with coupons "was the first time we've done a strip like that in recent years." He said the practice dates to newspapers in the 1800s.

"It's a great opportunity to provide another marketing solution for advertisers," as well as offers for readers, Fisch said.

Both the Advertiser and Star-Bulletin offer ad space on inside section covers.

Star Bulletin Publisher and Editor in Chief John Flanagan said during re-design work for the paper earlier this year, front-page ad sales were nixed. "The designers actually came up with front-page ad banners across the bottom. Our editors unanimously felt it was a bad idea, and talked the designers out of it," Flanagan said.

The New York Times runs classified ads on its front page, but Flanagan said, "I don't think anybody could say The New York Times was not a credible paper or didn't devote a lot of resources to journalism."

Many people believe the front page is sacred.

"Reserving it for news readers is a sign of respect for the editorial product and the readership, a symbol of editorial credibility or commitment," he said. "Others feel revenue from a front page ad helps pay for better journalism."

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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