The Press

A tongue-in-cheek thesis delivered high brow results.


The Press is Christchurch’s daily newspaper and is widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s best quality newspapers. It should be daily reading for any intelligent person. Christchurch is also home to the University of Canterbury, with some 12,000 students, who would surely benefit from reading a daily paper.


Based on the hypothesis that if students weren’t currently reading The Press, then they must be reading tabloid junk instead, The Press sent 827 University of Canterbury PHD students an impactful mailing timed to land when they were meant to be writing their thesis.

The target list was sent exactly the sort of thesis they might have to write if they didn’t take a broader interest in the world and only took their knowledge from stories about Hollywood and show business.

Landing on their doormats with a thud was a small, hardback book with the title ‘Brad and Jen. What went wrong. A thesis by Sam Semple’. Inside was an in depth analysis of what went wrong in their marriage.

The accompanying letter explained that they would be much smarter if they started reading The Press. They were offered a deal that they would be crazy not to accept.


The highbrow campaign generated 364 12-month subscriptions and 62 three-month subscriptions, a 50% response rate. The total ROI was 463%.

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