On Reflection: Paper Airplanes

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

Who says newspapers are dying? Certainly not the Boeing Company, which seems to be spending heavily to insert its own magazine, Frontiers, inside 220,000 copies of The Seattle Times each month.

The usual Frontiers press run is about 115,000 copies, says Boeing spokesman Doug Alder Jr., so the added distribution nearly triples circulation. “We wanted to be able to share our employees’ accomplishments with a wider audience,” Alder says, “and the insert in the Times gives us that opportunity. It also reaches an audience that may not be familiar with Boeing and what we do in the community.”

Alder says the insertion program, begun in March, is a pilot project that will run through the end of this year. “We’ll evaluate things [at that point] and decide if we will continue beyond this year,” he notes.

The inserts are running only in the Seattle market, but newspapers in other big Boeing towns have begun salivating. Advertising executives at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, say they were unaware of the Seattle insert program until told about it by Seattle Business. Both expressed interest in encouraging Boeing to expand to their cities. “We would be thrilled to partner with Boeing,” says Jamie Drolet, retail advertising manager at The Post and Courier.

Frontiers, a full-color, glossy magazine that features stories about Boeing employees on the job, debuted 10 years ago. “We’ve tried to make Frontiers the National Geographic of aerospace magazines,” says Editor James Wallace.

Boeing won’t say what the Times project is costing. An estimator at Journal Graphics, a commercial printer in Portland (which prints Seattle Business magazine), says printing 220,000 copies of a magazine like Frontiers would cost about $55,000 a month. The newspaper’s insertion fees likely add $10,000 to $20,000 each month, making Boeing’s possible outlay as much as $750,000 this year.

“We hope it will get younger readers excited about math and science,” Alder says of the insert program, “and encourage them to explore careers in aviation.”

Boeing seems undeterred by reports that the average age of newspaper readers is well above 50.

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