Overview of this campaign
Each week The Economist analyses events that have happened around the world. But what if it explored the implications of events that have not yet happened? For example: what if autonomous vehicles ruled the world? What if an asteroid was headed for Earth? What would Hillary Clinton’s first 100 days as president look like? The Economist considered these scenarios and more in a strikingly original supplement, The World If.
The objectives included (1) to provide The Economist audience with a unique take on the potential outcomes of events and trends that will define the future of the planet; (2) to provide a unique cross platform advertising opportunity for brands looking to stretch the minds of their audiences.
Results for this campaign
The supplement was published in the 1 August 2015 print issue (also across digital platforms) and it included articles, charts and snapshots of what the world would look like in politics, business and technology given certain assumptions. One chart asked, “what if America got rid of guns?” (Answer: 12,000 deaths, 84,300 injuries and $174 billion in medical costs could be avoided.) Other scenarios included imagining Russia breaking apart, the world introducing a “Piketty tax” on wealth, the yuan challenging the dollar as a reserve currency, a NATO member coming under attack and a hypothetical look at history – the consequences had Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists defeated Mao Zedong’s Communists.
The print supplement was at the heart of a multimedia publishing initiative that included a short film, a podcast and extra articles - such as “What if every woman had a mobile phone”, by Melinda Gates – on an elegant new website (worldif.economist.com). The content attracted some 1.6m digital page views as well as going to The Economist’s 1.6m weekly subscribers.
It delighted readers. Among their feedback: “more newspapers should be asking these questions and fleshing out possible answers”; “some of the best work I have seen in print in any magazine in a very long time”; “a stroke of genius”. A reader from The Netherlands wrote that the pieces “stretch and expand thinking” and urged: “Please do go on with them.”
The World If provided a unique cross platform advertising opportunity for advertisers HSBC and Microsoft by combining print, digital and online into three thematic packages across business and finance, science and technology and politics globally.