Print advertising effective, eye-catching when married with content

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and there have been some lovely festive advertisements in newspapers over the past few weeks.

Waitrose’s banquet-scaled, panoramic ad in The Sunday Times is a great example of how size can be used to great effect in print ads (it had us pining for turkey dinner), while Three’s cut-out advent calendar – an “exclusive, non-Internet papery version” — and Dolce and Gabbana wrapping The Telegraph’s Stella up like a present both demonstrate how interactive ads aren’t just confined to digital platforms.

Before I get carried away with all things noel, the fast approach of 2015 makes this the perfect time to look back at some innovative and eye-catching newspaper campaigns from the past year or so, a task I am greatly aided in thanks to the brilliant winning and short-listed entries celebrated at the 2014 Newsworks Planning Awards last month.

Looking through the Winners Gallery, a number of effective campaigns demonstrate the ability of newspaper ads to strategically engage with relevant editorial.

PlayStation 4’s launch campaign, entered by Manning Gottlieb OMD and winner in the “best newspaper category,” created a big impact by pulling off a media first: replacing The Sun’s standard page three with a double-page ad announcing the launch of the PS4 that day.

Up until then, page three of The Sun had been an advertising-free zone. So the mere fact that the newspaper allowed the team at Manning Gottlieb OMD to requisition it for an ad was always going to garner attention. But the witty copy that referenced the day’s page-three girl made sure it became a talking point, which was picked up on by the trade press.

Stating “Apologies to Rosie, 22, from Middlesex. Today’s page 3 is for the players” across a double-page spread, the amusing ad fitted with the rest of the newspaper, with Rosie shifted to page five.

In the words of Simon Cosyns, deputy editor of The Sun: “The PS4 execution was a brilliant example of a client leveraging the power of an iconic editorial page by using witty and clever creative.”

By the end of the PS4 launch day, #sorryrosie was trending on Twitter.

In a similar display of close collaboration between media agency and publisher Tesco Mobile’s 4G campaign (winner of “best topical campaign”) relied on its media agency, Initiative, liaising with a number of newspaper titles to align its ads with relevant content.

Knowing that the launch of the iPhone 6 in September would generate press coverage, and wanting to reach an audience considering a change of mobile network (more likely among people buying a new handset), Initiative saw an opportunity to use the launch to Tesco Mobile’s advantage.

Pulling off a planning pièce de résistance, Initiative utilised strong relationships with media owners to position all of Tesco’s print ads next to coverage of the iPhone launch, a feat which the Guardian’s head of investment says shows “a fresh and intuitive approach to modern press buying.”

The campaign, which solely ran in newspapers, improved print response rate by 60% and cost per response by 30%, demonstrating the benefits of advertisers utilising newspapers in a clever and strategic way.

It’s not just the content of a newspaper that can be woven into an advertiser’s plan. The name of a newspaper can similarly be used to create an impactful ad as the Post Office, working with Mindshare, showed in its recent campaign (which is the most viewed item in Newsworks’ Creative Gallery for 2014).

With the need to spread the word that the Post Office’s opening hours would now include evenings and Sundays, newspapers were vital to encouraging social engagement with the campaign.

Taking out a double-page spread on the inside front cover of The Mail on Sunday, the Post Office ran a simple but effective play on words – “Mail. On Sunday.”

The contextual ad, supported by the hashtag #lovesunday, contributed to traction on Twitter, including a funny response from the Church of England: “Hi there @PostOffice. Really pleased you #LoveSundays too. We’ve been open Sundays for a few centuries. Welcome to the party.”

I think that seamlessly marrying content and context to maximise an ad’s message, as demonstrated by the above campaigns, is when newspaper advertising is at its best. It makes for clever, usually funny, memorable, and relevant ads, which still garner attention long after they have run.

About Jessie Sampson

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