Humo’s plantable magazine cover promotes rebel nature of advertiser

By Bram Vandenbroeck

Humo is one of the most unique magazines in the world. We have a rather bizarre mix of TV, entertainment, humour, alternative music, and investigative journalism, reaching almost one million readers weekly.

Humo is not a typical magazine. Our readership is situated in the upper class. This means that our readers are very wayward and critical. They are early innovators and very active online and on social media.

That’s why today we approach the Humo brand from a multi-media point of view, with 500,000 unique viewers per month on our site, 136,000 Facebook likes, 47,000 Twitter followers, and almost 200,000 subscriptions to our newsletter.

If you trigger our community in the right way, you create a very strong fan base. So last year, Humo and its advertising client, Lampiris, published a plantable cover, making a world debut. The magazine could be planted, and after two to three weeks, field flowers appeared.

This year, Lampiris, the third energy supplier in Belgium, wanted to go even further. Lampiris and Humo are both challengers on the market. We decided to emphasise that quality with a six-week assertiveness training programme to challenge Belgians – who typically don’t like change, and are very happy with their house, garden, family, and job.

So the creative agency, Design is Dead (Emakina), created Lars, an assertiveness coach who guided our readers and online visitors through his programme. We used the catchphrase “Grow a Pair” to wake up the population and make them realise that change is a good thing and that paying too much is not okay.

During a weekly Webisode, Lars showed how you could learn to say no. Not only did he teach, he also gave good examples using typical situations at the butcher shop. The humorous tone of voice was crucial to the success of the campaign.

While the center of the campaign was online, we also relied on print. Lampiris wanted to use both – adapting the tone of the message to the tone of the voice of the advertising medium. This, as several studies have shown, increases reader engagement.

So, for six weeks, Design is Dead and Lampiris created advertisements that corresponded to the content and context of Humo: readers’ letters, cartoons, and on TV.

In Week Two of the campaign, the heart of every magazine contained a sheet of stickers with assertive slogans to trigger the readers to take action.

Meanwhile, online, Lampiris emphasises customer service: every client who asks a service question via Twitter or Facebook receives a personal response. During the six-week campaign, Lars took over those social media accounts.

He tweeted and retweeted assertiveness tips and news facts. He used Facebook to begin a search for the most assertive Belgian. People could nominate one of their friends and gather votes. The ultimate winner won a meet-and-greet with our national goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, in Madrid, and got his picture in the final ad of the campaign.

Lampiris has an edgy, insubordinate side, despite being a general energy player that is careful not to offend loyal fans. For example, two years ago, the company left the general association of Belgian energy suppliers that was dominated by the leading Belgian energy player.

Lampiris was also the first energy company to discharge the penalty for canceling a contract. The other company followed only months later, due to governmental pressure. 

About Bram Vandenbroeck

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