The Economist was founded in 1843 to take part in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress”. The Economist Debate Series
aims to further this mission online by providing a forum for independent, intelligent and reasoned discussion. Readers are invited to participate in an immersive online experience which also provides a unique and premium opportunity for commercial sponsorship.
The debates offer a structured forum for intelligent discussion in an environment where well-meaning debate too often ends in mean-spirited abuse or loses its focus. Based on the rules of the Oxford Union, each debate pits invited experts over three rounds until weak arguments collapse and only the strong are left standing.
The discussion is moderated by a journalist from The Economist, and readers are encouraged to participate by leaving comments and voting on the debate’s motion.
The aim of each debate is to get to the nub of an issue, whether it’s the price of food, the legitimacy of China’s hosting of the Olympics, or the question of whether society is wising up or dumbing down.
The debates are promoted in print and online. Each debate lasts roughly two weeks, giving everybody who wants to contribute a chance to do so.Economist Debates - engaging its audience in a "a new and compelling way"
Understanding of market
The Economist's readers are “ideas people”: they are united by the way they think about things, their desire to be stretched and challenged, and their thirst for intelligent debate and analysis. They are also highly tech-savvy: 87% of them use the internet for business regularly.
With this in mind, The Economist identified an opportunity to provide a virtual discussion forum for readers to engage and interact with each other: an island of intelligent discussion in a sea of confused internet chatter.
The debates specifically cater to this tech-savvy audience by letting readers follow debates via Twitter
or e-mail alerts. They are also promoted on The Economist‘s Facebook fan page
, giving readers the opportunity to discuss the debates with their friends and with other fans of The Economist.
Lastly, the debates show an understanding of The Economist’s commercial sponsors’ needs: As well as enjoying traditional logo placements, a sponsor can align itself with the motion under debate, so as to inform readers of its stance on that particular issue.
Success against objectivesObjective:
To fulfill the mission of The Economist: the pursuit of the “severe contest”
The debates have been well-received by readers and journalists alike. They have also attracted a wide range of expert speakers including Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz (Nobel prize-winner in economics), David Blunkett (British MP), Martin O’Malley (Governor of Maryland) and Peter Meisen (President, Global Energy Network Institute). Journalists have remarked that the debates have been useful in shaping their opinions.Objective:
To provide a forum for independent, intelligent and reasoned discussion - and invite readers to participate through an immersive online experience
Readers have cast a total of 8,500 votes and left more than 4,500 comments during the judging period. Many of the comments have been highly impressive both for the quality of thinking and the effort put into writing them. The debates have attracted interest from the New York Times Freakonomics blog and Wired.com, among others.Objective:
To create a premium and unique opportunity for commercial sponsorship
The debates have proved extremely attractive to sponsors, with repeat bookings: Intel has sponsored five debates and Phillips four. Client feedback has been extremely positive and sponsorship for the next six months of the debates is almost fully booked. Economist Debate Series - furthering the Economist's founding mission online
”The debates in this series have engaged The Economist’s audience in a new and compelling way, and the commercial success it has generated in the last year is extraordinary.”
For more information on sponsorship opportunities on the Economist Debate Series, please contact Sam Kumar
.Follow Economist Debates on Twitter.
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