Tactile print ads build showtime anticipation

By Jessie Sampson


London, United Kingdom

There’s nothing like the Olympics to galvanise a bit of feel-good fever.

For two weeks the front pages are dominated by triumphant athletes, while television viewing habits revolve around sporting schedules, and you discover a never before tapped interest in archery/badminton/canoeing.

This time around, DFS ran a great multi-platform news brand campaign, encouraging and congratulating Team GB athletes. In print, the ads were strategically positioned next to relevant editorial; a creative piece urging Laura Trott to “bring it home” ran next to an article about the cyclist.

With the majority of us enjoying the Olympics from the vantage point of our sofas, the contextual ads were relevant as well as eye-catching.

Many companies capitalised on the Olympic Games with their print advertising.
Many companies capitalised on the Olympic Games with their print advertising.

The Olympics is often referred to as the greatest show on Earth. But whether it’s a brand aligning itself with an international tournament as above, or the promotion of a new film, play, or event, print offers advertisers the opportunity to make a statement and build anticipation in diverse and interesting ways.

Take StudioCanal’s recent promotion of its new release Swallow and Amazons. With great cinematography stills, it would have been easy to run a straightforward print campaign that looked good. But the interactive potential of print allowed for another dimension to be introduced.

This Swallow and Amazons advertisement was designed to be interactive.
This Swallow and Amazons advertisement was designed to be interactive.

A branded pull-out in The Sunday Telegraph not only provided readers with more information on the film’s story, but could also be folded into not one, but two, different hats, depending on whether readers wanted to be a Swallow or Amazon.

While print is often perceived as a format viewers can’t easily interact with, as opposed to digital ads, it is fundamentally a tactile product — you hold it in your hands, after all.

StudioCanal’s ad is a brilliant example of how brands can make a statement and involve readers. Not a bad shout seeing as Newsworks’ “Touching is believing” study shows ads that encourage readers to touch them increase peoples belief that the brand is honest and sincere by 41%, quality perceptions by 20%, and purchase intent by 24%.

Another similar example was a cover wrap on Metro for the West End show Aladdin. Using thermochroic ink, a heat sensitive patch was positioned on the image of the Genies lamp, which, once rubbed, revealed a hidden message to readers with the opportunity to win one of three prizes to see the show.

As Metro’s creative director Sophie Robinson said: “This fun partnership with Aladdin has given us the chance to celebrate yet another Metro first, and the use of thermochroic ink should provide 50,000 lucky Londoners with a memorable interactive experience on their morning commute.”

Of course, tangible ads aren’t the only way brands use print to stand out in the run up to an event. Skittles, known for its rainbow imagery, took the opportunity to run a newspaper ad for London Pride a few months ago. The confectioner drained the colour from its creative, leaving just a black text on a white background, reading (in the shape of a rainbow):

Dear Pride in London,

So this is kinda awkward but we’re just going to go ahead and address the rainbow-coloured elephant in the room. You have the rainbow … we have the rainbow … and usually that’s just hunky-dory. But this Pride, only one rainbow deserves to be the centre of attention — yours. And we’re not going to be the ones to steal your rainbow thunder, no siree. That’s why this weekend, we’re giving up our rainbow.

But don’t worry, we’ll still be there to celebrate every colourful minute with you; we’ll just be completely starkers while we do it. Have a great day, Pride. From Skittles.

The London Evening Standard rebranded as the Late Night Standard for this campaign.
The London Evening Standard rebranded as the Late Night Standard for this campaign.

Another London-based event — the opening of the night tube — led to a similarly creative statement in print from the London Evening Standard.

Teaming up with Vodafone for the occasion, the newspaper rebranded as the Late Night Standard for the night and extended its hand-out time until 11.30 p.m. An Evening Standard cover wrap featuring nocturnal animals carrying the newspaper publicised the initiative the day before.

So whether it’s a TFL landmark, new West End show, or international sporting tournament, print ads are a powerful way for brands to garner attention and create awareness.

As with the DFS campaign, newspapers are the perfect place for advertisers to align themselves alongside a headline-grabbing event, while examples such as StudioCanal and Skittles show how just one inventive ad can make a bold statement.

About Jessie Sampson

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