It’s a jam-packed Epi 12 with my longtime industry friend, Lou Paskalis, CEO and Founder of AJL Advisory and strategic advisor to Ad Fontes Media.
We had a lively stroll down memory lane (and, yes, I sing to him), reminiscing about working on promotions for E&J Gallo Winery/Food Network years ago to rubbing elbows at Cannes Lions this past year.
Then he shared some solid food for thought – especially around the gauntlet he’s become known for throwing down lately: supporting quality journalism through brands investing in the news media. He himself has been making the news with his plain-spoken POV, as evidenced by articles in AdAge to Fast Company, from mentions in the Swisher/Galloway podcast Pivot to being an inaugural honoree of the “Purpose Beyond Profit” awards for his, well, purpose-driven advocacy.
As a former senior media executive at both American Express and Bank of America, Lou offers tremendous insights into some of the biggest issues facing the media and advertising industry today. With his signature outspoken style, he stressed the need for transparency in programmatic advertising – with some astounding stats that should knock some sense into media buyers, and advised brands should build long-term customer relationships, including around shared values and purpose, rather than rely on just transactional marketing.
Then we really got into the meat of it:
He explained the indispensable role of journalism in upholding democracy, pointing out that “Journalists are uniquely called out in the first article of the Bill of Rights as having a special role in our democracy to basically keep the government honest and elected officials honest.” However, the proliferation of misinformation and erosion of trust in media poses a dire threat. As Lou says, this crisis calls for “supporting news at a time when truth is under assault and we need more journalists to debunk the lies.” But it’s an uphill battle in the face of the local newspapers dying out despite the deep community engagement of readers.
“I’m not here to make your job easier. I’m here to make our message resonant. And we have to break this mindset that scale equals quality, because it absolutely doesn’t.”
We went on to discuss his billion dollar challenge to advertisers to be part of the solution, made easier to vet for brand safe environments and political skews thanks to AI-aided companies like Ad Fontes Media – but noted that innovation and adaptation are critical for news organizations to make it through this period of massive change.
From 2005 through 2020, there’s been an 80% decline in advertising investments in news, which has led to a 50% decline in people working in newsrooms.
There’s a lot more to this conversation with my insightful friend, Lou Paskalis, and I urge a complete listen to grasp his big ideas on brands, journalism, community and democracy with an eye toward pragmatic solutions…and inspire you to pick up the gauntlet!
[00:02:39] E.B. and Lou stroll down Memory Lane…from Gallo to Cannes
[00:04:47] Personal passions (Did Lou’s early F1 fascination drive his challenger, fast-thinking mindset?)
[00:09:19] Consumers and brand purpose
[00:12:57] How the triple bottom line is served with news
[00:14:25] How the truth became fungible…
[00:17:05] …Leading to shrinking newsrooms and local news deserts
[00:22:10] The imperative of local journalism and community engagement
[00:25:17] Building a brand for life
[00:26:43] The billion dollar challenge…
[00:28:51] … And just how advertising dollars support journalism
[00:33:08] Media innovation and risks spark news organizations adapting to change
[00:37:20] Marketing and changing behavior
[00:41:05] AI-powered platform rating and a fan of Comscore
[00:42:26] Expounding on Rupert Murdoch’s succession plan.
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(And find E.B. on Threads as @mossappeal)