National advertising in alternative weeklies nosedived the first few weeks of 2002. "We're kind of on a shoestring now, but that's how we started," says AWN Executive Director Mark Hanzlik. At least one AAN paper is pulling out the stops to shore up the local ad base: Chicago Reader has restructured its ad rates so that some advertisers now are paying 15 percent less.
Auto advertising has been a tough nut for alternative newsweeklies to crack. AAN News asks ad directors how they won over these conservative, set-in-their-ways auto dealerships. Some say they're getting this lucrative business with a combination of special sections and savvy sales reps. Auto dealers are opening up to the alternative weekly market, but they want familiar relationships and a lot of bang for their buck, they say.
Lee Newquist, the owner of AAN's newest independent newsweekly, says thereâ€™s plenty of room to grow Fort Worth Weekly. The special relationship between the paper he bought this week and the Dallas Observer may allow cooperative ad sales efforts, and neither paperâ€™s going to park its boxes on the other paperâ€™s turf, Newquist says.
When the Nashville Scene ran a five-part series skewering the Tennessean, the local daily countered with a string of full-page, color ads belittling the circulation figures of its alt-weekly competitor. Tennessean Publisher Craig Moon tells AJR that the Scene's take-out had nothing to do with his decision to run the ads. The Scene published its own ads in response and Editor/ Publisher Bruce Dobie warns darkly: "Never pick on someone smaller than you."