The Economist launches massive ad campaignToday it was announced that the London-based current affairs/economics magazine The Economist is launching a far-reaching ad campaign aimed at broadening its readership. It’s a unique title in a unique position with an equally unique readership. But an ad campaign could spoil that

Earlier this month it was announced that The Economist had effectively dodged the unfortunate fate that has befallen nearly every news organisation in the the English-speaking world by posting both profits and circulation increases in fiscal year 2009

Revenue increased 17% to $510 million. The Economist’s worldwide circulation grew 6.4% to 1,390,780, according to the July-December 2008 Audit Bureau of Circulations report. The magazine’s circulation in India was up 37%.”

What this means for its new circulation and readership figures could be telling. According to the publication’s own research, the average yearly income for its readers is $175,000 and the average net household worth is just shy of $1.7 million.

The magazine has the affluent, mover-and-shaker, business-person market pretty well pinned. Because of that, its advertisers are paying a premium to reach that audience. That is why I was confused when I read in Brand Republic today about The Economist‘s plans to reach more people beyond its market.

The ad will also run in a one off spot during channel 4 news on 5 July. A more extensive TV strategy is still being finalised. Print ads will run in the autumn and be supported by an extensive online campaign.”

Here’s the ad they’re running:

It reminds me a bit of what’s happening at Newsweek in the U.S. Newsweek’s circulation has dropped, and with it, so have its ad pages. So the powers that be have adopted a new strategy: to model Newsweek after The Economist by aiming for a smaller, more affluent readership.

Conversely, this move by The Economist looks to me like an attempt to be more like Newsweek. And the funny thing about that is Newsweek doesn’t even want to be Newsweek.