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The Economist

Raising Eyebrows and Subscriptions

Proximity London

For decades, The Economist promoted itself as the ticket to career success for white-collar warriors – but was often dismissed by those disinterested in reading what they considered the corporate elite handbook.

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  • Challenge

    The Economist and Proximity London saw that a younger audience was rejecting the publication – perceiving it as boring and impenetrable – or had never even considered it. To increase engagement and penetration within that demographic, they needed show how The Economist was relevant to them – turning them into readers, and ultimately into subscribers.

  • Solution

    Driven by the insight “There is nothing more provocative than the truth,” Proximity London established three tasks:
    1. Provoke the intellectually curious
    2. Demonstrate The Economist’s relevance
    3. Give readers their own ‘Economist epiphany’

    They used recent editions for the most provocative insights, the most fresh and arresting views, which may run counter to common wisdom – addressing topics far outside business and finance and, of course, showcased The Economist’s characteristic dry wit. An initial spike delivered a first pool of prospects for future retargeting, while initial learnings informed always-on activity. The combined power of content, creativity and context surprises people, changed minds and stimulated action.

  • Results

    The largely digital display campaign directly provoked 5.2 million new people into exploring The Economist content, grew the paid subscription base by 64,405, and was responsible for delivering £51.7 million in lifetime revenue and a revenue ROMI of over 25:1 from our year one spend of £2.03M. These subscribers were the precise target audience – younger, skewing female – showing programmatic display can deliver powerful, business-changing brand effects.