By Fitzgerald, Mark
Editor & Publisher , Vol. 127, No. 20
Maverick publisher breaks industry taboo, enters into partnership with Advo
In the first-ever marriage of the big direct mailer and a community newspaper, Advo has begun delivering the Enterprise Newspapers of suburban Milwaukee in its weekly mail advertising package.
Starting with its May 2 Marriage Mail shared mail package, Advo began weekly delivery of 103,000 copies of Enterprise newspapers in 10 communities in parts of Milwaukee and its suburbs.
Enterprise papers, which are free-distribution products with seven zones, are heavy on editorial content and ROP advertising with few insert ads.
"We have never, to the best of my knowledge, ever attempted to distribute an editorial product," said Paul Case, regional vice president of Advo. He said Advo does distribute 100% advertising shoppers in a few markets.
Enterprise Newspapers owner J.J. Blonien acknowledged - with a certain amount of glee - that hooking up with Advo breaks a big newspaper industry taboo.
"It's like sleeping with the enemy, isn't it?" Blonien laughed during an interview at Advo's brand-new regional plant in Milwaukee.
"I was somewhat influenced for a long time by that feeling in the industry," he added. "It was kind of like, if you were a publisher, you couldn't like Advo.
"But then I sat down and said they really haven't taken any of my customers .... I'm heavily ROP. And with Advo, I get guaranteed deliver The paper is dry, not in the bushes," Blonien said.
Blonien has frequently been outspoken ken in newspaper industry matters: baiting dailies for their supposed inefficiencies and urging fellow free-distribution publishers to add real editorial content to their shoppers.
Blonien is also a past president of the Association of Free Community Newspapers.
Striking an alliance with Advo will allow Blonien to concentrate on the newspaper rather than on its delivery, the publisher said.
Through the years complaints about delivery, which was handled by a contractor, began to increase, he said.
"I'm a publisher, first and foremost," Blonien said. "But last winter was an absolute disaster with the extended sub-zero temperatures. I started having problems with renewals of [ad] contracts. I don't think it's a newspaper industry secret that carrier delivery brings a lot of problems," he said.
Advo's mail program also will get the Enterprise newspapers into apartment complexes and subdivisions that carriers cannot enter, Blonien said.
Because of the added access and some minor expansions of its zones to accommodate the direct mailer, the alliance with Advo will increase the newspapers' distribution by about 15%, Blonien said.
"I also like that not delivering my newspaper is a felony" he said, referring to the legal status of U.S. mail.
And where other newspaper publishers might fear Advo's size - it is a $1 billion company that now delivers 24 billion pieces of advertising annually to 53 million households - Blonien says the size is a plus for him.
"For me to go to the Milwaukee Post Office with 100,000 [copies], I'm a bit player. But being affiliated [with Advo] I know they have clout. I know, being in this market, that they get delivered every week," Blonien said. …