I was the brand strategist on USA Today when it was launched. It was ground-breaking: colorful, graphic, digestible, diverse, informative, as current as you could get, available everywhere—a paper Internet. Amazingly, Al Neuharth just
thought it up and did it. Without marketing research. There was one problem: no one
was buying it.
I did the first research ever done on the paper. People understood its benefits
perfectly. The brand personality was spot on. The problem? The perceived reader personality. No one would be seen reading the lightweight “MacPaper,” even though they secretly liked it. A lot. We changed the advertising from introducing the paper to changing the image of its readers. It worked. USA Today is one of the most successful new products of the past few decades. I think of this every time I open a hotel room door in the morning and look down.