“Hey there, stranger. You look a little run-down.”

“I suppose I do look a little out of sorts. You see, I’ve been asleep for the past fifty years, I’ve only recently awakened. I’m just getting my feet under me again in these modern days.”

“That’s amazing! I imagine a lot has changed since you went to sleep?”

“It sure has. Some things are familiar, but many things are new. What is that you have in your hand?

“This? Oh, this is a mobile phone. Pretty slick, huh?”

“What does it do?”

“Well, it’s a mobile telephone – I can call anyone in the world from right here on the sidewalk.”

“I have a telephone at home, it hangs on my kitchen wall. Why would you want to call someone when you’re out on the street?”

“Umm, well, sometimes I want to ask my wife what’s for dinner.”

“I would just wait until I got home. Does it do anything else?”

“Oh my. It tells me the time!”

“Interesting. I have a wristwatch.”

“And it tells me the date, too.”

“Mmm, okay.”

“And I can play games on it.”

“You play games while you’re walking and driving? I play games at home at the kitchen table. I’m pretty fair at Scrabble, I have to warn you.”

“I can also text my friends.”

“What does that mean?”

“I can type short messages that get transmitted to my friends who have similar devices. Here’s one I sent to my buddy: ‘Hey, Joe, what are you doing?’”

“I guess if I wanted to know what my friend was doing, I’d go see him. Is that thing expensive?”

“It sure is, about $500.”

“No way! For a watch and a calendar and games?”

“Yep. Plus I pay about $60 a month for the service. I can’t live without it.”

If you think about our addiction to technology from the perspective of someone who’s never seen one, it does seem rather silly, doesn’t it?

We spend a lot of money on various pieces of technology that consume a lot of our time. But are they really necessary? You may argue yes or no, but I suspect devices are an emotional attachment and a part of our lifestyle, required to “fit in” and “keep up.” We would feel inconvenienced (and maybe a little lost) without them but probably more because our “habit” was interrupted than anything else.

We can argue a wide range of reasons why subscribing to the local newspaper (print, online, mobile, etc.) is important. Newspapers provide uniquely “local” content, coupons for local businesses, coverage of local schools and governments, etc.

Those arguments are logical.

But what if our approach to selling newspaper content was emotional rather than logical? What if we focused on the integration of newspapers into our daily habits?

Think about many of the products marketed to us.

New cars aren’t presented as simple tools that get us to and from work. They’re pitched as lifestyle statements, objects to be admired, with incredible sound systems and plush rides.

Ads for game consoles don’t tell me that they foster recreation, down-time and creative thinking. Rather they show the products as a part of people’s lives. Friends are shown gathered around the console, being social, eating, laughing and having fun.

I’d like to see newspapers marketed in the way so many other products and services are. Sell newspapers as part of a regular habit.

Present them as the vital tools you need to achieve the lifestyle you want.

Here are some ad concepts that I think would be compelling on TV, radio or billboards. They create the image that newspaper content is something cool people use!

  • A young family is shown at breakfast. On the refrigerator we see a couple of newspaper clippings showing photos of their kids at sporting events.
  • A hip and interesting-looking couple is shown on what appears to be a Saturday morning reading the events listing. They’re pointing to an event and look excited to attend.
  • A train commuter is shown at the end of the day using his or her phone to read the newspaper’s review of a new restaurant.
  • A person is at the kitchen table, working through the generous pile of Sunday inserts, clipping coupons. A tag indicates the value of Sunday coupons: “Each Sunday, The Daily Newspaper has coupons representing an average savings of $4,428.”

Newspapers are important for a variety of reasons. But too often I think the marketing efforts employed don’t hit the right mark.

Particularly as we try to get a younger audience interested, rather than sell based on the logic of “being informed” and the newspaper being the “trusted source,” perhaps we should present the newspaper as a lifestyle, creating the emotional attachment and habit so it could be the hip, clever and interesting thing we can’t live without.