The empty newspaper
Winning back readers, our most vital news source


Since the economic crisis of 2009, more and more readers cancelled their newspaper subscriptions.
Our mission: convince them to renew their subscriptions, using a direct mailing. Preferably by playing on the emotional bond and the interactive relationship between the reader and their regional newspaper.
After all: it’s the local readers who make the news.
In other words: we need them not only as a subscriber, but equally as a source for most of the content in Gazet van Antwerpen (paper for the province Antwerp) and
Het Belang van Limburg (paper for the province Limburg).


So why not show them the direct result of their decision? We mailed the readers a copy of their local newspaper that was (almost) completely empty. The front page showed only the header, and had a hand-written personal message from the editor in chief on it:

“Without you, it’s empty around here...”

Inside, only the editorial was printed. The editor in chief looks back on the long and splendid relationship they had for months, often even years. He asks himself: where did it go wrong, what did I do wrong? He ends with a warm plea to make a new start.


In the past, an administrative approach generated a response rate of maximum 3%. The emotional approach of the empty newspaper resulted in a double digit response. Overall, 11,67% of the lapsed subscribers decided to renew.
As a extra benefit, this approach was pretty ecological. We used blank newspapers that were not (for quality reasons) being used for printing newspapers. So no extra trees where cut down to make this direct mail.

Samen gemaakt met Tom De Blocki.
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