The power of a strong cover in print publishing

It’s been said to all of us at some point in our lives, almost definitely by your mum or a past teacher, to never judge a book by its cover.

This is sound life advice, but when it comes to actual covers – whether of books, magazines, or newspapers – of course we judge them. It’s human nature. They either repel us or draw us in.

That initial, half-second judgment determines whether we pick them up or leave them on the shelf. Needless to say, the cover is a pretty important space.

Aside from the important daily business of breaking news, newspapers’ covers can also be a place for titles to display innovative advertisement formats, for brands to launch big campaigns, or for a special event to be commemorated with souvenir wraps.

Don’t get me wrong: Cover wraps, front-page cascades, and memosticks aren’t an everyday occurrence. But when they do happen, they can be eye-catching, interesting, creative, and memorable. (The Telegraph reports that cover wraps have resulted in up to 90% recall.)

Last month, the Evening Standard ran eight separate covers on one day as part of Sky Sports’ “More of the Games that Matter” campaign, prior to the Premier League kick-off.

According to the Evening Standard, the initiative was the first time a U.K. national newspaper has run so many cover wraps in a single day, attracting coverage in the trade press as a result.

As part of the same campaign, Sky Sports placed a memostick on the front cover of The Sun with information on its season of sport, cheekily entitled “headline news.” I’m not one for football, but I was intrigued enough to open it.

Unsurprisingly, campaign launches are often the catalyst behind a cover wrap. When ITV Encore launched in June, the channel wrapped The Guardian in a translucent ad simply stating its name on the front page and adding the leads of the hit show Broadchurch into the composition on the back. Effective with no embellishments needed.

Last year, HSBC, which has also been known to invest in a translucent cover wrap, launched its Global Connections campaign in conjunction with The Telegraph by placing a cascade ad on the front page of the newspaper, leading readers through the competition journey. A great example of how another dimension can be bought into print advertising.

Likewise, BMWi’s double-sided cover wrap of The Telegraph introduced a level of reader interactivity by featuring a Blippar element on the inside cover which played readers the accompanying video ad when scanned with a smartphone.

The wrap was part of a partnership between the newspaper, BMWi, and Wired magazine, which overall resulted in a 400% rise in searches for “BMWi3” and “BMW Electric Car” at the peak of the campaign period.

From one swanky car to another, Mercedes’ double-sided wrap of the Evening Standard in May 2014 was an example of strong visual advertising. Post-campaign research from YouGov’s London Omnibus survey showing that 43% of readers liked the ad and 18% claimed to have taken direct action as a result of seeing it.

Whether it’s a stand-alone ad or part of a wider campaign, cover wraps are undoubtedly a very visible statement. Analysis conducted by Trinity Mirror on its RAM panel shows that 69% of respondents remembered cover wraps they had seen on newspapers and magazines Its analysis of the Daily Mirror’s RAM panel shows that 71% remembered seeing/reading Halifax’s wrap of the newspaper, which was part of a cross-platform campaign across the news brand.

Crucially, the impact of cover ads can lead to action. When Suzuki cover-wrapped The Sun, News UK found that it tripled awareness of the advertised car model among readers who had seen the cover wrap, compared to non-readers.

Overall, the campaign — which also included a front-page strip and full page ads in The Times (print and tablet editions) and a television ad — led to 53% of in-market readers saying they would consider buying the car as a result of the ads.

Of course, it’s not just advertisers who can make a statement on the front page:

Looking at all these examples, I think it’s not a bad thing that we can’t help but judge a paper by its cover. It’s what keeps innovative solutions and beautiful designs gracing our newspapers.

About Jessie Sampson

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