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Mercury, Newport, R.I.

Age-old brand gets modern treatment

New niche magazine targets college students and tourists

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"The oldest local newspaper gets an extreme makeover." That's how The Newport Daily News announced the launch of Mercury in March, 2005.

The Newport Mercury was started in 1758 and had been published by The Newport Daily News since 1928. But the latest incarnation of Mercury — as a 15,000-circulation, free, weekly tab — is nothing like its namesake.

The new Mercury is for a younger demographic — people who move quickly and who have more interest in pubs and sex-toy parties than in than local politics. The publication includes columns such as "Full Frontal" and "Tarot Talk" and features stories that appeal to an 18-30ish audience (and yes, that includes sex toys). It aims to cover arts, style and entertainment and hopes to become popular with local young adults as well as the thousands of college students who populate the area's three universities.

For Creative Circle, this was a daunting experiment — our mission was to help shape this makeover in less than two months, and on a shoestring budget. Just like a reality television show, we were given just three days to create, develop and polish a new design for this publication. Meeting at our offices in Providence, R.I., Mercury editors and Creative Circle designers worked over two days to develop the initial design. A third day was spent helping to implement the design in Newport.

Jennifer Boucher Albers served as lead designer. Kevin Dilley and Bill Ostendorf also actively participated in the project.