La Presse+ Launch

Entertainment/Content/Media (BRONZE)
Best Launch (BRONZE)

Client Credits: La Presse Limitée
Michel Gagnon - Vice President Marketing
Christiane Dubé - Senior Director Marketing
Yves Lebon - Director, Digital Brand Strategies

Agency Credits: Cossette
Joanne Nantel - V.P. Client Lead
Florence Girod - V.P. Strategic Planning
Antoine Bécotte - Chief Creative Officer
Barbara Jacques - Creative Director
Anik Ouellet - Associate Creative Director
Isabelle Allard - Art Director
Claudie Grenier-Côté - Art Director
Capucine Labarthe - Art Director
Maxime Sauté - Art Director
Patrick Michaud - Writer
Geneviève Cardinal - Writer
Nathalie Boucher - Computer graphics
Maxime Bluteau - Computer graphics
Nathalie Quirion - Client Services
Simon St Germain - Client Services
Emmanuelle Girard - Client Services
Julie Courtemanche - Media Director
Steve Richer - Media Planner
Simon Garnaud - Media Digital Planner
Daniel Cartier - Retoucher
René Lachapelle - Retoucher
Sébastien Guy - Digital Art Director
Simon Bugeaud - Digital production
Michael Aspiros- Digital production

Total 2335 Words


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):April 2013 -December 2013
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: April 2013
Base Period as a Benchmark: N/A

a) Overall Assessment

Known for the quality of its content and the popularity of its columnists for the past 129 years, La Presse, the largest French-language daily in North America, has also been affected by the changes in readership brought on by the proliferation of media channels.


Across the world, the newspaper industry is suffering from the rapid growth of digital communications and a swiftly diminishing readership tied to adverse demographic trends. As a result of the continuous aging of baby boomers—traditional newspapers’ primary readers— global advertising revenue has gone from $49B in 2000, to $19B in 2012.  A decline compounded by the weak renewal of readers, especially among the youth segment. In other words, the entire industry is facing a crisis of momentous proportions.


La Presse, keenly aware of these trends and seeking to secure its leadership role in the Francophone news publishing industry, had already undergone a significant shift towards online platforms with the successful launches of and La Presse Mobile. Not resting on its laurels, La Presse decided to redefine the category and leapfrog its competitors. So it undertook the biggest—and most risky—project of its history, a project that would last more than two years, mobilize the entire company and require a massive investment. The project would be transformative for the organization. La Presse invested heavily in consumer research and talented developers to create a superior and unique product that would represent modernity and strengthen their leadership in the news industry.


Understanding that the growth of tablet penetration rates are three times higher than that of smartphones, La Presse chose to revolutionize the newspaper industry by launching La Presse+, a unique, interactive and free daily news app for iPad. Once downloaded (from the AppStore) and installed, each user receives a new edition every morning, complete with news, columns, chronicles, infographics, videos and interactive ads.


The app was designed from the ground up to deliver an unparalleled experience, distinctive from all other existing “newspaper-based” apps. Instead of simply porting over content to the iOS platform, La Presse sought to develop the world’s most intuitive and advanced news distribution platform filled with exclusive content, creating a new rituals for the digital age.


The campaign had to convey the product’s uniqueness while maintaining the content’s credibility to attract readers still attached to the print edition and to entice digital-only readers to adopt this new medium.

b) Resulting Business Objectives

La Presse+ is a digital news product that adds to La Presse’s strong portfolio and will ultimately become the flagship product of the brand and the primary source of revenue for La Presse. The primary goal of the campaign was to convince current tablet owners that the La Presse+ application deserved a top spot on their device based on the breadth and depth of the content and the quality of the experience. It was necessary to ensure a critical mass of downloads quickly to create excitement and word-of-mouth around the launch. Time was of the essence.


 The aggressive launch objectives were twofold:

1. Achieve 200,000 downloads after 120 days and 400,000 before the end of its first year of existence.

2. Maximize daily readership, i.e. ensure that downloaders adopt a daily reading ritual.

c) Annual Media Budget
$3 - $4 million

d) Geographic Area
Region of Montreal, Quebec, Canada

a) Analysis and Insight

Over the last few years, in-depth consumer research has provided La Presse with a deeper understanding of news-seekers’ motivations, habits and rituals. In addition to guiding product development, this research highlighted some considerable challenges.


Technological evolution has drastically changed the way that information is consumed. The proliferation of content distribution platforms, the immediacy of news and free information have all profoundly changed newspaper readers’ habits. Those readers have gradually abandoned paper in favour of websites, which are more adapted to their lifestyle: more accessible, more up-to-date and more interactive with the content. For many of them, their relationship with news content has also changed: news is often consumed quickly and superficially, in bits and pieces, from multiple sources and on various platforms. Although their reading habits had changed, the readers were eager for tools that could act as a content curator to sift through the abundance of sources.


We’ve also noted there’s still a strong attachment to the paper version of La Presse among many regular readers who have over the years developed a reading ritual. These readers have acquired the habit of flipping through, sorting and/or spreading out the different sections. Most of them also had a strong attachment, and even an affinity, towards some of the columnists. Their reading behaviour was so entrenched in their daily routines that getting them to switch to La Presse+ would be a huge challenge. The key to converting them depends on our ability to convince them that La Presse+ includes everything they came to like about La Presse, but with an improved experience, access and content. And that it could easily be part of their current (or new) rituals.


In order to establish a strategy that would convince as many new readers as possible to download and read La Presse+, we segmented the market according to current readership status and tablet ownership, as well as to Rogers’ curve of innovation adoption, which states that 15% of the population are innovators and early adopters. The early majority (34%) only tends to adopt a technology once it has been tested and adopted by their friends and/or opinion leaders.


Therefore, we knew early on that the key to a quick and significant adoption of the product would rest on our ability to:

1. Quickly reach and convince many early adopters and opinion leaders to try and promote the product.

2. Make our target interact with the product to really experience and understand its benefits.

b) Communication Strategy

The launch strategy was developed around a thorough understanding of the targets and their ability to integrate new technological behaviour into their information rituals. The launch was planned in phases:

-      In the spring, we presented the new product to the innovators and early adopters: they have the technology (tablet and application), embrace it quickly and seek out innovation. They will become the product’s best ambassadors.

-      In the fall, the testimonial approach that highlighted our new ambassadors made La Presse+ interesting to a second target, the “early majority” from Rogers’ curve. These consumers adopt innovation after their peers have actively embraced it.

-      In April 2014, we launched the third phase of the campaign. By explicitly showing the features of the La Presse+ app and demystifying it, we targeted the “late majority”, that is, indecisive consumers who had not really understood what the product was about.



The launch was based on three pillars:

-      Create an impact to rapidly maximize downloads

-      Communicate La Presse+’s characteristics based on the touchpoints used

-      Allow interaction and experimentation with La Presse+


La Presse+’s business model was announced one month before the product launch on the AppStore. Revolving around the idea that La Presse+ is free, articles in the print version of La Presse and on La, as well as a press release, stimulated conversation on social media networks, emphasizing interest in the product.


A strong signature language was created for the launch and showcased the “+” symbol. Mosaics made of the “+” symbol and the colours of La Presse+’s 10 thematic sections were omnipresent, everywhere from ads to promotional articles.


Multiple creative pieces were produced. Different product characteristics were communicated, depending on the media used. All the campaign’s pieces invited readers to download the application from the AppStore or La Built according to responsive design, which allows it to be consulted on all platforms, the site features a La Presse+ demonstration video and all the tools necessary to understand the product.


All initiatives and points of contact were designed to maximize product testing. Many product demos were held across the province—at the airport, Montreal’s Central Station, various cultural events and business gatherings—where early adopters were most likely to be found.


The product’s features and benefits were first offered to current La Presse readers and subscribers in order to encourage them to download the app, while notifications of new, exclusive content were sent to those who had already downloaded it in order to promote regular use.


Throughout the campaign, multiple rounds of consumer research allowed La Presse to precisely monitor the target’s grasp of and attitudes towards the product. In April 2014, we launched the third wave of the campaign to further educate the public about La Presse+’s content. The ads explained the variety of La Presse+’s content: everything they could expect to find in La Presse, but with so much more (new sections, for example).

a) Media Used

-      Television (30-sec, 15-sec)

-      OOH (airport, super billboard, site takeovers, subway advertising, urban OOH, wild posting, Bixi— city bike rentals)

-      Web (video placements, banners, homepage takeovers, Facebook ads, mobile banners, SEM)

-      Radio (30-sec, 15-sec)

-      Print (various formats)

-      Promotional and experiential (Street activation, glass, iPad cover, etc.)

b) Creative Discussion

We re-energized the brand to make it enter the digital world. Our goal was to create a sense of novelty while capitalizing on the brand equity of La Presse to suggest a natural transition—an organic evolution.


An evocative name was chosen: “La Presse+,” which represents the La Presse that we know and love, but with an enhanced value proposition. The colour palette was inspired by the actual colours from the newspaper’s different thematic sections to create a sense of familiarity and continuity for the audience.


The brand identity also uses the “+” symbol as a reference to pixels from the digital world. Mosaics made of the “+” symbol following the colour scheme of the ten La Presse+ sections constituted the backbone of the campaign. The “+” mosaic also evolved into a new coloured typography, where colour was adapted to subject, enhancing product characteristics, sections, topics or general advertising messages. The plus sign (“+”), which is part of the brand identity, is useful, as it can easily be adapted to every medium and concept.


The power of the “+” symbol and the synergistic implementation of the visual platform across all components, from advertising to promotional items, was essential to quickly build awareness of the new medium.

c) Media Discussion

For such a massive launch, a television presence was obviously inescapable. Multiple OOH formats were also deployed: signs, billboards, and takeovers at the airport, Montreal’s Central Station and Place-des-Arts metro station, as well as radio spots and print ads in the paper edition. A vast digital campaign was also deployed: banners, website takeovers, SEM, email marketing and social media.


In the fall, a series of 12 TV spots featuring current La Presse+ readers was launched. Public figures, well-known and well-liked by Quebecers, took part and became proud ambassadors of La Presse+. We multiplied the touchpoints with potential readers, by using several OOH, print and web formats.

Emails to La Presse subscribers reminded them of La Presse+’s benefits, while also encouraging new La Presse+ readers to visit daily.


We partnered with Bixi, Montréal’s bike-sharing service, to put ads on bikes, which are often part of another morning ritual: commuting to work. Bixi is a brand that shares the values of La Presse+, as it is forward looking, innovative and resonates with the same target.


Finally, throughout the year, we carried out the most impactful activation campaign ever launched in Quebec. More than 370 outlets and 12,000 hours of product demos were used to educate thousands of potential readers about the product and generate trial.

a) Sales/Share Results

The campaign was successful in positioning La Presse+ in the minds of Quebecers and, more specifically, tablet owners as an innovative news experience offering the quality content they expect from La Presse, but presented in a distinctive, enhanced form that blends the best of print, web and video—that is “more/PLUS” than they had before.


 The launch objectives were exceeded:

-      After 6 weeks, 58% of Montrealers knew about La Presse+

-      After 120 days, La Presse+ was installed on more than 250,000 tablets

-      By early 2014, it had been downloaded more than 400,000 times

-      The 175,000 readers per week goal was exceeded after only 3 weeks

-      An average of 120,000 unique tablet users per day flip through the daily edition for an average of 44 minutes during the week and 73 minutes during the weekend, which represents an outstanding engagement.


Moreover, the launch had a positive impact on consumers’ perceptions of the La Presse brand, with 81% of them saying they now have a better opinion of the brand, and see it as more modern and innovative.


In 2013, La Presse+ was also the most downloaded iPad app in the “Newstands, Canada,” and has been a finalist in the News Category at the Tabby Awards.


Today, La Presse+ is installed on more than 550,000 tablets. 74% of current La Presse+ readers were not readers of the paper version when the app was launched.* Among them, 50% are former readers of La Presse and 50% are new readers.


Perhaps even more importantly, La Presse+ now generates 35% of the global advertising revenues of La Presse, thereby ensuring that this great institution known for the quality of its content and the popularity of its columnists successfully transitions to a new content distribution platform.


Finally, the technological platform that was developed captured the attention of newspapers publishers around the world, many of which have shown a keen interest in licensing it.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

Footnote 1: *Localytics, March–April 2014.

a) General Discussion

La Presse+ was a new product. Before the campaign launch, La Presse+ (or even the general project idea) was completely unknown to the public. Everything started a month before the product launch, with the conference and press release. The product benefited from wide media coverage, as well as the overall communications strategy.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:




Distribution Changes:

New distribution model

Unusual Promotional Activity:


Other Potential Causes: