Got Chocolate? Newspaper Marketing Gurus Prepare for Stagflation

This would be funny if it weren’t so condescending. In their article SAGE Advice: ‘Stagflation’ and the Ad Market, Editor and Publisher’s Leo J. Shapiro, Steve Yahn, and Erik Shapiro advise newspapers on the nuances of advertising during times when consumers are worried about stagflation, as follows:

“Consumers who are suffering through the misery of economic hard times–which appear to be settling in with the onset of stagflation–are made more miserable when they are confronted with tempting, seductive advertisements for things they cannot afford. These reminders of their inability to spend are advertising turnoffs.

Instead, newspapers must help their advertisers determine ways to put on a happy face for consumers. One tried-and-true way Is to develop promotional events that provide consumers with little bits of happiness–bites of chocolate like those that used to be served free in the early days of motion-picture theaters.”

The good news is, we can now expect a lot of little “freebies” advertised in the newspaper.

This reminds me of a joke I heard years ago.

Q: Why don’t farmers wear tennis shoes?
A: Because Pioneer Seed hasn’t started giving them away yet.

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3 Responses to Got Chocolate? Newspaper Marketing Gurus Prepare for Stagflation

  1. Ginny in CO says:


    Thanks for posting this. There are some very good stats in the article.

    The average age of consumers who fear stagflation is 51 years – these are consumers who are old enough to have experienced stagflation in the 1970s. By contrast, only seven percent of consumers who are under 30 years old today voice a fear of stagflation.

    The 37% who fear stagflation behave differently from those who do not. Should the percent who fear stagflation continue to increase, the population as a whole will act as if the entire economy is in stagflation.

    It is really time Americans stop buying on credit for anything but houses, education loans and catastrophic emergencies that exceed their savings. The consequences to those who have over borrowed and those who continue will sear the lesson into their brains.

    Meanwhile, E&P is an excellent source to use for campaigns. The catch 22 situation is not surprising. Newspapers can ill afford to have their advertisers be unable to advertise due to lower sales. Perhaps the whole economic situation that develops will also be a lesson the media does not forget. Pandering to the people in power will eventually lead to the bubble bursting. The bigger the bubble, the more the whole country will be affected.

  2. Ginny, it makes my day when I get an interesting reply to a blog post. I agree the age stats are compelling and wonder if perhaps staglation, and its likely effects on earnings and retirement portfolios, is perhaps the “sleeper” issue of the year, especially given that we older Americans (50+) are more likely to turn out and vote.

    I’ve only recently become aware of E & P – they do have some excellent articles.

    But regarding their advice to advertisors to use “little bits of happiness,” to lure business belies the notion that newspapers are unbiased regarding economic policies. It absolutely belies liberal bias, in my view.

    In other words, if newspapers and publishers advise potential advertisors to dish out “sunshine” to the public during times of economic stress, don’t the papers become complicit in whatever economic policies might be contributing to that stress?

    The alternative of using ads that are perceived as “turnoffs” may be depressing, but may ultimately motivate the public to pressure for new policies and, perhaps, build a more robust economy that would benefit everyone in the long run.

  3. Ginny Cotts says:


    Would that more people in business would look at ‘the long run’. That was supposedly the better approach the Japanese used in their economy and lifestyle – which I think is true. Unfortunately there are too many other forces that can make a mess of a national economy.

    After reading more history on the Federal Reserve and the history of banking, I have come to the conclusion that the media as a responsible practice of professional journalism has been a myth that a few people like Murrow, Cronkite, and Moyers actually have done, while too many others just played the charade and pocketed the money. Certainly the owners have rarely been liberal – many were bought up at various times in our history and elsewhere to promote the agendas of the rich and powerful. Bush is no original.

    Another looming issue that the boomers need to be aware of come retirement. Back when the IRAs were starting to build, the IRS went to Congress and pressured them to do something so the tax money that eventually would be owed could be somehow anticipated. That’s when the requirement to start drawing on the money was set at 70.5 years. So when the boomers start hitting that age, a lot of stock is going to start hitting the markets – resulting in a probable loss of expected returns.

    I’m thinking those of us who are not in the first wave, should prepare to buy some cheaper stock that does not go into an IRA. If I haven’t confused my retirement plans, this is one of the reasons the Roth IRA actually caught on among people who didn’t expect a big difference in their taxes. It was actually the number of conversions of the tax delayed IRAs to Roths that helped build Clinton’s surplus budget.

    Footnote from ’04 when I discovered E&P. Their tally of newspaper editorial endorsements for presidential candidates started in ’44. By ’04, only TWO Democrats had won the majority of endorsements – in two campaigns. Clinton in ’92. I think the other was Carter. Kerry blew it out of the water – both in numbers of papers and numbers of readership. E&P was also publishing how many papers that had endorsed W in ’00, switched in ’04.

    Ken Mehlman was asked about this on some TV appearance and replied “The Republicans will never win that race”.. I took it to be a moment of prophecy for the future. 😆