Beware the 26, not so dangerous after all

Beware the 26 was a viral marketing campaign led by the Florida Times Union to emphasize 74 percent of people in North Florida consume either the paper or the Times Union website While the campaign was strong and generated a lot of buzz, the payoff was pretty flat. Here are the real 26 you should be paying attention to.

The TU will be giving away prizes for the next 74 days, which frankly conjures visions of step-fathers trying to impress their new sons or daughters with iPods and PS3s. The message of the campaign seems a bit desperate. Check out the lead sentence on the homepage of the website:

They’re not space aliens, politicians or a new boy band (thank heavens) – but they are still kind of annoying. See, The 26 is actually a small percentage of our community clinging to a crazy misperception – that newspapers are yesterday’s news.

So the Times-Union is saying anyone that doesn’t conform to their method of news distribution is “annoying”? Ouch. People who like to slice and dice their news when they want and how they want it for free are no better than the sophomore member of a boy band? That’s bold. Even bolder is claiming to provide fresh batches of innovative media and linking to a page with nothing on it.

Unfortunately people are abandoning traditional means of media consumption for the more flexible and customizable online versions. Advertisers and the old guard revenue source, classifieds, are fleeing to the web faster than the ink can dry on the news print. Check out these three article to see what I mean:

Craigslist Is Devastating Newspapers’ Profitable Classified Ad Business
Florida Times Union struggling
San Francisco Chronicle in trouble

I don’t hate the TU, I find it a very valuable resource for my blog. But denial is not the way to go here. Don’t spend money on a viral ad campaign and gifts to persuade people not believe something they already know is true. Put the money into researching new media and techniques that might actually interest the MySpace and Twitter generation.

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