Research, successful campaigns show print alone can engage all the senses

When it comes to newspaper advertising, innovation is often synonymous with digital-led activity and multi-platform campaigns.

However, what about print when it is left to its own devices?

Often referred to by naysayers as traditional and two-dimensional, printed newspapers can get a bad rap. Yet with 85% of daily news brand readers in the United Kingdom reading newspapers, according to NRS PADD, it is clear they are far from extinct and that print ads have the ability to engage readers in creative and unique ways.

In my view, some of the most memorable examples of innovative newspaper ads maintain the style and aesthetics that print lends itself to, while introducing a third dimension.

They engage a reader’s senses or play with the newspaper’s physical form to provoke a response and make a lasting impression. For example:

Touch: There is increasing scientific evidence — such as Ferris Jabr’s study “Why the brain prefers paper” for — that the tangibility of the print format creates greater memorability and recall.

A great example of touch in print advertising is Age UK’s “Spread the Warmth” campaign. By teaming up with The Telegraph, the charity created a thermal cover-wrap for the newspaper’s weekend magazine.

Thermal ink meant certain objects on the cover changed from cold gray to warm orange when touched by a reader’s hand, highlighting the areas of a domestic living room where the charity’s donations were able to make a difference to the elderly during winter months.

By visually demonstrating the process of “spreading the warmth,” the campaign won a high reader engagement rate, resulting in 910,000 donations. In addition, there was a 625% increase in donations from a younger audience, suggesting the creativity of this campaign appealed to digital-savvy generations.

Smell: Both Hugo Boss and Davidoff have experimented with “memostick” scented ads on the front pages of newspapers (The Times and The Daily Telegraph, respectively), allowing readers to smell the advertised product immediately.

Taking the power of scent one step further, Trinity Mirror and Kew Gardens teamed up last year to introduce a creative and memorable advertising solution in the form of pineapple-scented ink.

A number of Trinity Mirror’s local London newspapers contained supplements printed in the fruity fragrance to advertise Kew’s summer festival and fruit salad-inspired boating lake.

Sight: A recent advertisement for Alain de Botton’s book, The News: A User’s Manual, was printed in the London Evening Standard, encouraging readers to take another look at the news in front of them.

Entitled “The news on this page is not the whole story,” the visually simple, long-copy ad addressed readers directly, compelling them to take an insightful and considered second look at what they were reading:

“Examine the news in this paper and you’ll find that the French President’s causing a stir in America, wildlife in Hampstead Heath is under threat, and that we have Lily Cole to thank for saving a bookshop in Soho. Yet this is not the entire truth.”

Aside from demonstrating the ability of newspaper advertising to address topical issues, the thought-provoking ad is an example of how text can be used to effectively engage readers.

Size: For the launch of “Total War: Rome II,” SEGA teamed up with the Guardian to create a Roman-style, mini version of its host paper, “The Roman Gazette,” complete with its own ads, including a used chariot and a slightly blood-stained gladiator.

The eight-page, one-off supplement is an example of a fun and humorous way of interacting with readers.

The initiative received great traction on social media and contributed to the game’s success as the highest-selling video game in the U.K. and Europe in its first week of release.

Shape: While the above demonstrate what can be achieved on the flat surface of a newspaper’s pages, a recent Valentine’s Day ad from The Carphone Warehouse used the page as a template for a 3D creation.

With a bit of cutting and pasting, the advert, with the tag line “Why spend more this Valentines?” could be transformed into a paper bouquet of roses, a concept which fits with the brand’s “Scrimpers” campaign.

These ads are examples of newspapers and brands pushing the boundaries of what is expected of an established media, through creative, playful, humorous, and thought-provoking solutions.

While maintaining a distinctive, visual style, they all introduce another dimension, interacting with readers on a tactile, sensory level that is unique to print.

About Jessie Sampson

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