Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NAA Moves on Color Quality

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NAA Moves on Color Quality

Article excerpt

SEEKING A BIGGER piece of the national advertising pie, the 2-year-old Newspaper National Network (NNN) is working with the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) to battle one of the biggest obstacles to national newspaper advertising: inconsistent ad color reproduction.

At the same time, technology has created new tools to help manage digital color prepress systems across platforms and devices, and print sites.

NNN, which president Pat Haegele describes as a not-for-profit NAA initiative subsidized directly by newspapers, was in 1994 cleared by the U.S. Justice Department to set prices and to sell advertising on behalf of papers around the country. It is attacking national ad categories that rarely use newspapers -- including packaged goods, automobiles, drugs and remedies -- categories where less than 5% of the media budget is spent on newspapers. With combined media spending of $18 billion, the categories together represent a target in which a gain of one percentage point yields $180 million.

The rub is: Since an average NNN sell includes 80 to 120 papers, "quality control on the receiving end is the biggest complication," Haegele said.

Richard Grounds, a national ad rep for Knight-Ridder's St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, says that when advertisers look at newspaper tear sheets from across the country, they often see "30 different looks to a color ad."

The reason is that prepress processes differ at each paper, as do presses, paper, and ink.

And so, even though the newspaper medium offers great reach and returns for national advertisers, they "can't put full-color and across the country and get consistent results," Grounds said.

As a major platform for newspaper graphic arts applications, Apple Computer it taking note.

"Color is one of perhaps the three most critical components of a company's brand assets. in addition to logo and name," says Nancy Carr, Apple's marketing manager for publishing.

TWIN CITIES TEST

To improve color consistency from paper to paper the Pioneer Press joined Apple in a project called Driving the Brand Home, in which various marketing partners of automobile giant BMW are working together, with Apple, to turn brands into digital content that can be employed by various players in the marketing mix.

Says Carr, "It means that BMW can be confident that its brand assets are being used appropriately and consistently and this can be a real boon to newspapers. We've turned the corner on color management."

As part of the program, the Pioneer Press used Apple Color Sync profiles to print the same double-truck color BMW ad from the same digital file in both its St. Paul and Duluth plants. The results from flexo and offset presses looked the same. According to Grounds, BMW's agency said it "would be impossible to do any better. We proved that this can be done."

NAA STEPS IN

NAA is trying to expand the success. Earlier this month, it was scheduled to host an initial meeting of a task force in support of its new Newspaper Color Reproduction Quality Initiative. The ambitious goal is:"To provide newspapers with the ability to achieve consistent, accurate, high-quality color reproduction throughout the publishing industry."

Although plans are still vague, strategies include: assembling a task force of industry experts to identify the problems and suggest solutions; mapping processes in color printing; analyzing each process with regard to the five factors: men, machines, methods, materials, measurements; researching color-management systems and color profiles; developing standards for newspaper materials and printing specifications (SNAP); developing tools and materials to help publishers train workers and implement quality programs; establishing means to evaluate performance and results. …

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