Area Newspaper Makes a Deal with The Onion

Area Newspaper Makes a Deal with The Onion

The Pioneer Press gets new ad sales opportunities.

In a first-of-its-kind deal for the Pioneer Press, the St. Paul newspaper has taken over the local-market business operations of the satirical news weekly The Onion.

Editorial staff at the Chicago-based Onion continue to produce their own content, but the company approached the Pioneer Press about taking over other functions, including selling ad space in print and on line, and printing and distributing The Onion and its sibling, an insert of entertainment news called the A.V. Club. The deal took effect with The Onion’s November 18 issue.

“What it does is it gives my sales staff more to sell,” says Greg Mazanec, vice president of advertising sales for the Pioneer Press, which will keep The Onion’s sales staff. “Frankly, there’s very little crossover in the people that they’re doing business with and the people that we’re doing business with.” Mazanec sees opportunities for “modest cross-selling.”

The Onion has formed similar partnerships in some of the seven other markets where it has print editions. The first was with the Chicago Tribune Media Group last June. Deals were announced in late October in the Twin Cities; Denver; Austin, Texas; and Madison, Wisconsin, where University of Wisconsin students started The Onion 22 years ago.

As The Onion sheds parts of its operation, it will increase its presence on line and on television. It’s working on two programs scheduled to debut in the first quarter of 2011, one on Comedy Central, the other on the Independent Film Channel.

“With The Onion in its product portfolio, the Pioneer Press will expand its reach, especially among younger readers metro-wide,” Pioneer Press Publisher Guy Gilmore said in a statement announcing the deal.

Steve Hannah, president and CEO of The Onion, said, “Minneapolis-St. Paul is our target market in spades—young, intelligent, cool, tech savvy, relentlessly social, perpetually thirsty people who count on The Onion and A.V. Club to provide a unique perspective on the news and pop culture that matters. Plus,” Hannah added, the Pioneer Press “stands for journalistic excellence and integrity. Just like us, only slightly different.”