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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Advocate Ads

Air Date: Week of

Non-profit advocacy groups haven’t always been able to reserve full-page advertising to promote their messages. Rates have traditionally been too high for start-ups and non-profits to afford. But Joe Therrien says major newspapers like the New York Times are starting to offer special rates for non-profits that may change the face of advertising.


CURWOOD: It wasn’t long ago that Bluewater and other nonprofit groups were not able to place ads in such high-profile publications like the New York Times. That’s because rates for prime advertising space were expensive.

But today major newspapers and magazines are making room for cash-poor nonprofits and advocacy groups. The kinds of groups that Joe Therrien represents. He’s an account executive with the Public Media Center, the ad agency responsible for placing the Ford ad in the New York Times.

Mr. Therrien welcome.

THERRIEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Curwood.

CURWOOD: Now, I understand you’ve been in the ad business for quite a while. How have you observed the advertising market opening up to advocacy groups that may be on a shoe-string budget?

THERRIEN: It’s a significant change. It makes available powerful podiums like The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, at prices that nonprofits can afford that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to use.

CURWOOD: Now, I’m wondering what exactly these special advertising rates are that are being offered to nonprofits?

THERRIEN: Well, if you wanted to buy a full page in The New York Times, the rate card tells you it would cost you net $127,000. But if you are a nonprofit or advocacy group that doesn’t have a tight timeline, then, if you were a client of mine, I would suggest that you look at what’s called a “standby rate.” You give the Times the authority to run your ad in the window of a week or two weeks or three weeks. You could get that same ad for $39,000.

CURWOOD: Now, in many cases, of course, these messages could be quite aggressive and confrontational. What’s been some of the most particularly challenging cases that you’ve tried to present, in terms of getting these ads to pass muster?

THERRIEN: Well, we had an ad several years ago that called on readers to boycott Japanese goods because Japan was the leading purchaser of Tiger penises, and its popularity as a medicine was causing the destruction of tigers throughout Asia. There was a very considerable fight with the editors of a major West Coast newspaper. Ultimately, they finally agreed to run it, since there was nothing lascivious about the ad. It was simply a statement of the part of the anatomy of the animal that was causing the destruction of the entire animal. It’s good to have that kind of a test because they’ll make you prove your point. If you can substantiate the proof of what you’re saying, you are not going to find resistance you can’t overcome.

CURWOOD: Joe Therrien is the principle with the Public Media Center in San Francisco. Thank you so much, sir.

THERRIEN: Thank you, Steve, I appreciate it.

CURWOOD: The Ford Motor Company declined to comment for this story but did send us a list of its environmental commitments. These include investments in hydrogen fuel cell and biodiesel technologies and hybrid electric vehicles. And later this fall the company’s first “no compromise” hybrid electric SUV, the Escape, is expected in showrooms. But in Ford’s recent corporate citizenship report, the company noted that the fuel economy for its U.S. fleet will decrease by more than two percent this year. Ford says the reason for the decrease is due to its decision to cut production of its ethanol burning vehicles.

Coming up: From toxic trail to bike path. The EPA paves over a Superfund site and invites tourists and controversy. Keep listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Govinda “Tu M’aimes” EROTIC RHYTHMS FROM THE EARTH (Earthtone – 2001)]



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