A look at the most innovative print ads of 2015

In last month’s blog post, I wrote that there seems to have been a renewed appreciation of the power of print to engage readers, influence opinions, and provide a favourable context for advertisers.

From 101’s Laurence Green detailing the role of newspapers in Scottish Widows’ multi-platform campaign, to Trinity Mirror Solutions’ James Wildman condemning “printism” as flying in the face of all reason and evidence, industry leaders are highlighting the unique role that print plays for advertisers.

Something I didn’t do was provide examples of the creative – innovative and effective print campaigns that have graced newspapers’ pages this year. For that, I need look no further than some of the brilliant entries received for the 2015 Newsworks Planning Awards.

With a total of 94 applications from 24 media agencies, competition in the award’s third year was tough and the standard of work was higher than ever. Among the winners, highly commended and shortlisted were many examples of newspapers leading the way in inventive and eye-catching campaigns.

Take PHD’s eclipse of The Sun newspaper for Oreo, a campaign that coincided with the first solar eclipse in the United Kingdom in 16 years. The translucent, Oreo-bearing cover-wrap was not only topical and contextual, but it was also cheekily funny and, as judge Samsung’s James Eadie said, “brought to life a unique moment.”

Along with OOH and social media activity, the tie-in with The Sun contributed to #OreoEclipse reaching 20 million people in one day, making it a great example of how an original newspaper ad can make an impact and fuel conversations. Incidentally, PHD won Media Campaign of the Year for this work at the recent Campaign Media Awards.

Virgin Media and Manning Gottlieb OMD also used an innovative, folding print ad to stand out from the crowd during the summer holiday season. With the aim of publicising its multi-destination holidays, Virgin Media debuted a media first with The Telegraph, a box-shaped ad on the front cover of Stella magazine.

Drawing on Newsworks’ Touching is believing study conducted with UCL and PHD, which found that touching print ads increases brand impressions, Manning Gottlieb OMD wanted to encourage readers to physically interact with the creative.

The box-like format not only achieved this, with readers having to unfold the ad, but also communicated the range of Virgin Holiday’s multi-destination holidays, with 36 options on the front cover alone.

Also this summer, Sky Sports and MediaCom used the contextual placement and geographical targeting offered by newspapers to deliver relevant ads, which resonated with readers.

With the aim of increasing Sky Sports’ association with the Barclays Premier League, a highly personalised, multi-media campaign to engage football fans was conceived.

Focusing on reaching supporters of eight premier league teams, national newspapers allowed for contextually relevant placement (i.e. an article about Chelsea next to a relevant Sky Sports Chelsea advert), while regional press allowed for geographically relevant targeting.

Print made up just part of this cross-platform campaign but the way newspapers were ingeniously used to target the right people in the right place makes it a brilliant example of innovative press advertising. Overall, the campaign increased purchase intent by 40%.

From games of football to Game of Thrones, HBO, PHD, and Metro collaborated to increase digital downloads of the fifth season of the show. The result was a “spoiler-free” edition of the paper, published the day after the finale aired on Sky Atlantic, providing a “safe zone” during readers’ commutes to work.

Under the headline “All eyes on the throne,” Metro’s article on the episode ran with redacted content blocked out, while the partnership was flagged on the front page so that commuters knew they wouldn’t stumble across any surprises. Activity also included a Metro-carrying White Walker who was making his way to work on the Northern Line.

The campaign generated a positive response from readers and contributed toward Season 5’s sales increasing 75% compared to the previous series.

The above are just a handful of the inspiring newspaper campaigns that have run this year (take a look at Newsworks’ Planning Awards gallery for more) but they demonstrate how newspaper ads continue to push boundaries and drive innovation – something I have no doubt we’ll see more of in 2016.

About Jessie Sampson

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