From Star Wars Day to Rainbow Laces, tailored print ad takeovers make an impact

With a UK general election and the birth of a royal baby both having taken place in the last month, I have to mention some of the great topical advertisements that have been appearing in the newspapers.

First, Pampers’ ads showing babies born on the same day as Princess Charlotte, positioned in newspapers next to coverage of the new arrival.

A simple idea, but considering that the babies featured were born on Saturday, May 2, and the ads were published on Monday, May 4, it’s a pretty amazing demonstration of a well-planned and executed campaign.

Later that week, Furniture Village also went to press with a topical message in the wake of the general election. With the votes still being counted, the furniture company placed an ad in The Times declaring: “A clear majority of seats.”

With the election having been touted as the closest in decades and with another coalition presumed inevitable, it was becoming clearer by the morning that the Conservatives may confound predictions and go on to win a majority (which, of course, they had by lunchtime).

In this context, Furniture Village’s ad took on another edge – predicting the outcome and ensuing headlines before they even happened, just as people were beginning to suspect that the Tories might indeed have “a clear majority.”

Taking topical ads to the next level, The Daily Mirror was recently (space) invaded by brands that had created specially tailored ads to celebrate Star Wars Day (May 4). Working with media agency Omnicom, the likes of Starbucks, Heinz, Babybel, SEAT, and Hasbro referenced famous slogans and scenes from the cult films.

Swapping out light sabres for straws, Starbucks led with “May the 4th be with,” Babybel quoted Obi-Wan Kenobi’s “that’s no moon” while switching the moon for cheese, and Heinz went for “let the sauce be with you.”

These are great examples of brands aiming for a fun and original take-over of a newspaper.

Similarly, last year Paddy Power, with the help of media agency M2M, got brands to collaborate for a “Rainbow Laces” edition of Metro, aimed at addressing homophobia in football – the first time Metro has dedicated the whole of the newspaper to a campaign.

Bespoke ads included Google app explaining who Gilbert Baker is, Premier Inn becoming “Premier Out,” declaring “pink and proud,” Smirnoff taking on rainbow colours, and Metro’s weather forecast sponsor Tropicana predicting “rainbows, rainbows everywhere.”

On the day the special edition was released, there were more than 13,000 tweets about the campaign, while research conducted by Metro showed that 91% agreed that “seeing brands like this working together makes the message very powerful.”

Paddy Power’s head of marketing, Christian Woolfenden, said the Rainbow Laces edition “is one of the most exciting things we’ve done as a brand in my time here.”

This is a brilliant example of brands coming together to capitalise on the campaigning and topical nature of newspapers to draw attention to a great cause.

Another instance of brands marking an occasion with bespoke ads was when The Sun’s motors editor, Ken Gibson, left the publication after 23 years, resulting in MINI, Nissan, Peugeot, and Jaguar/Land Rover dominating the motor section with ads in tribute to him.

Typically tongue-in-cheek, MINI’s contribution was the most amusing – “Ken don’t waste your pension on a Golf (club membership)” – while Jaguar/Land Rover went for a touching “1,000,000 miles. One careful owner” beneath the image of a pen.

While they vary in subject and intent, all of the above show what can be achieved when brands actively collaborate with newspapers and each other to create tailored, topical ads.

About Jessie Sampson

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.