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Johnston Press signs first TV sponsorship deal for flagship i newspaper

Johnston Press looks to market the value of i newspaper at opportunistic time for premium news

The i newspaper, owned by regional news publisher Johnston Press, has signed its first TV partnership deal with UKTV’s Dave, as it looks to elevate the title’s position in the market during an ongoing debate about the value of premium news and advertising environments.

The newspaper will sponsor a series of 'idents' across some of Dave’s key programming, kicking off today (27 March) with each of the 'idents' carrying the tagline, ‘i sponsors Characters on Dave.’

Created by Atomic and brokered by Channel 4 Sales and the7Stars, the campaign will bring to life the brand’s trademark logo, the red ‘i’, in a sequence of news-related sketches including Trump, Brexit and North Korea.

The activity will also be supported by press placements in the paper and online, throughout the duration of the sponsorship with the red ‘i’ taking centre stage across the whole campaign to drive brand awareness.

The TV spots will air during a selection of Dave’s most popular programmes including QI, Storage Hunters UK, Cops UK: Bodycam Squad, Mock The Week and Room 101.

It forms part of Johnston Press' strategy for i, to market the brand as a trusted source of news "cutting through the noise of opinion", amid a fake news furore.

It’s a timely campaign that could see the i newspaper prosper from the crisis of confidence in online advertising environments that jeopardise brand safety, highlighted by a mass boycott of Google over brand safety concerns by some of the world’s biggest advertisers. Such concerns prove the value of premium environments offered by publishers, claim newspaper bosses from News UK and The Guardian, among others.

Johnston Press has invested heavily in marketing the value of the i newspaper since it acquired it from Evgeny Lebedev in April 2016. It’s the regional publisher’s only national title and plays a crucial role in stabilising its revenue, which slid to -6% in the 52 weeks to 31 December 2016. The i newspaper boosted the publisher’s revenue by 8% in 2016, sparing the publisher from a -14% decline in revenue and -9% decline in circulation.

Richard Thomson, publishing director at Johnston Press, said: “Dave is a great and natural fit for us to showcase what i as a brand is all about. Its audiences are much in line with i’s, with the same wit, humour and intelligence, and we look forward to kicking off our partnership at such an exciting time for the brand.”

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Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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