At the beginning of this year Univision Communications Inc. has bought a controlling stake in The Onion company. In February Isaac Lee, Univision’s chief news and digital officer, said that it would be a great transformation from the satirical media company to the more serious company with covering news by humor. The main purposes were to grab a millennial audience and to help frame the 2016 presidential election. So, how can it be real to change a brand?

In 2012 The Onion has difficult times: its revenue had not been as well as it`d been wanted, so the decision was about movement its New York City headquarters to Chicago. Then The Onion created an idea to rebrand itself. It has been obvious that a presidential election is always a suitable event for thing like this. This year Univision Communications has believed in the idea and invested it. What has been happening after?

Having flashback to 2013, The Onion has cut its «paper» newspaper to double its digital, so now The Onion can make its strategy real – to experiment with videos as challenging. By the way, a part of this «freedom» is a merit of Univision Communications. «We’ve basically decided not to do cable news anymore because it doesn’t feel as relevant,» said Matt Klinman, head writer of Onion Video. «There’s obviously still cable news, but even the clips from cable that you see aren’t the same monolithic voice that it used to be.»

The Onion - America's Finest News Source

The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Senior writer at Onion StudiosDavid Iscoe explained a policy of news with humor, «One reason cable worked is it felt like it was an authoritative form where if you saw something on cable you felt like it was true. And as you watch something that looks like it’s true, it’s easier for you to imagine that it is true and you get immersed in the joke. But if that’s not part of how you experience the world anymore and it’s not your source of truth, then we lose that.»

That`s why it`s a hard process of making videos with the satirical truth. For example, a team can cut down some moments from candidates` speeches and mock them. Or creators show a video content where two thirds demonstrate videos from Republican and Democratic National Conventions and a third captures what the speakers on the stage speaking are really thinking.

The Onion - America's Finest News Source. Highlights of the 2016 RNC

«The idea [was that] you can watch the speech but you’ll get it with a little bit of Onion commentary to go along with it to help it go down easier,» Klinman says.

Surely, these videos are funny. The Onion team has never worked with a so quickly turnaround, that is why these guys should be proud of themselves. «Our process is not very reactive even if we try to have things in a timely manner. Our frame for thinking about it is how does the world work? What are the patterns we have seen? It’s much broader than the moment,» Iscoe said. «If you go more abstract into human behavior, people do the same things again and again and they will keep doing things and the same patterns will replicate themselves throughout time. So how can we get that into a form that’s abstract enough to apply beyond this one event but specific enough that people can see it clearly?»

This strategy can be a little bit illogical and strange, but, by investments of Univision Communications, The Onion has been expanding its content trying to hold itself in a news space and maintaining the brand’s DNA.

The Onion - America's Finest News Source

«We all believe in satire and trying to enhance the national conversation. We don’t want to be portrayed always as this joke site because in our world we are a newspaper presenting truths about the world,” says Ben Berkley, managing editor of The Onion. «That’s what drives this intellectual torture that we put ourselves through where where we’re going through truly thousands of headlines every week. Everything is done to try to not just fall into what the rest of the comedy world does, which is generally take the easiest or quickest take. That world is very oversaturated.»

To be a popular having less problems, The Onion team have to curb a sharp tongue. This past summer, a major beer company approached The Onion to potentially partner on its election coverage. «They got cold feet and decided to put all their money into the NFL,» said Rick Hamann, chief creative officer at The Onion. «You can tell just based on the intense divisiveness of this election cycle that it’s difficult for marketers and advertisers to get involved with any political coverage, let alone The Onion’s special brand of political coverage.»

Thus, 7-Eleven was working with The Onion during the 2012 election for sponsored content that included a campaign where people could support a favorite political party due to two styles of tea/coffee cups. But during the similar campaign this year 7-Eleven has made it clear that they want to keep the «neutral positions» in this political question.

«The same exact brand, the same exact cup-based advertising, but you can see that even though 7-Eleven wanted be involved in something along the lines of politics they really shied away from the actual coverage,» Hamann said «Four years ago we were able to show the candidates – we were able to have a much sharper wit and the 7-Eleven folks this year still wanted to help support it but asked us to dial that back.»

Life is life, so The Onion have to learn ho two be more neutral and show loyal videos which don`t «explode» advertisers. Fortunately, The Onion doesn`t give up and people hope that this team  will surprise all of them.

«[The Onion has] been around for nearly 30 years. It’s special because it doesn’t pander and it’s special because it holds true to its character. And it’s special because it’s maintained this impossible standard of quality,» Berkley says. «So really as we’re looking at this election it’s been our ultimate goal to evolve the way The Onion is packaged and to produce more and be more reactive like every site that we’re parodying. We want to do that all while changing as little as possible about the basic process and the thoughtfulness and the rigor [of The Onion].»

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