Redesigned guide offers vision of multiple channels, not just print

by Stephanie Spencer and Joseph F. Perz        

The Chicago Tribune Media Group used a painstaking cross-departmental approach to create a media kit that brings the creative process to life for its customers.

The Chicago Tribune Media Group (CTMG) created its Innovative Media Kit in the spirit of transformative change: to challenge and change the perceptions held by advertisers, agencies, and our internal stakeholders.

The historical perception that the Chicago Tribune is solely a newspaper was a considerable challenge. However, we saw it as a unique opportunity that could be leveraged. Having been associated exclusively with newsprint products, our mission was to convey that CTMG is a multichannel, multiplatform organisation, dedicated to providing innovative solutions to our advertising partners.

The initiative was driven by a core cross-departmental group from brand marketing, creative, advertising, sales, and interactive teams. We were confident that developing a truly differentiated and aesthetically engaging marketing piece — delivered both through printed material and a unique web site — would be completely unexpected, and would serve as the catalyst to reshape any preconceived notions.

The first step was to brainstorm about what it truly means to be creative, and to identify where creativity is derived — the right side of the brain. It is there that ideas are transformed from the obscure to the tangible. With that in mind, we settled on the theme of “Reactivate Your Right Side.”

Next, we examined the initial step of the creative process, which is sketching. It’s how we as designers make ideas come to life, and it was apparent that a sketchbook would be the centerpiece of the project.

We also felt it important for the sketchbook piece to not only be purposeful, but meaningful as well. Combining rough sketches with rich colourful imagery, the first 14 pages of the printed material are designed to visually convey how CTMG brings ideas from concept to completion. Accented by client testimonials and snippets of proven sales results, the sketchbook has evolved into a “leave-behind” that our clients can use and share with their colleagues.

The online component, at, has allowed us to remain current with company information, branding standards, and links to current creative specifications. Creative galleries can be updated immediately to reflect best practices, keeping us competitive in an ever-evolving creative climate. It also includes its own “sketchbook” section, an open area where ideas can take shape instantly by actually drawing on a web page.

The initiative’s enthusiasm is captured in feedback we solicit from our stakeholders. “The Innovative Media Kit has helped our sales team capture the attention of both new and existing clients by showcasing the latest innovative print ad shapes, sizes and positions, as well as rich media online,” said Paula Rosentreter, senior manager of advertiser marketing. “It has also inspired us to redesign our core advertiser website that will be relaunched soon, featuring the innovative ‘sketchbook’ as a key section.”

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