Magazine moxy

The end of a long, hectic day is the time to make the world go away, sink into a cozy chair and escape into the familiar, satisfying pages of a favourite magazine. In a world with too many ad messages, too many media choices, and too little time, advertisers are hoping to reach target audiences at moments just like this one, when people are comfortable,

The end of a long, hectic day is the time to make the world go away, sink into a cozy chair and escape into the familiar, satisfying pages of a favourite magazine. In a world with too many ad messages, too many media choices, and too little time, advertisers are hoping to reach target audiences at moments just like this one, when people are comfortable,

receptive, and engaged.

The innate niche nature of magazines make them ideal for finely targeting consumers demographically and psychographically while also feeding their interests and lifestyles.

But advertisers are also breaching the boundaries of convention to strengthen links between their brands and specific magazines in the minds of readers. Innovative ad formats and pub-related events are part of the arsenal while some advertisers, such as Visa and Johnson & Johnson, also have their sights set on editorial.

Anne McNeil, senior product manager for premium cards at Visa Canada, has turned her focus toward content integration in magazines. She challenged group media director Stacey McIntyre and her team at Starcom Worldwide in Toronto to come up with ideas beyond traditional four-colour magazine ads and to go where no advertiser has gone before – editorial content.

So far these efforts have resulted in sponsorship of features within magazines where Visa can be tied closely to a purchase intention. Some of these include sponsorship with logo of a retail outlet map in Canadian Home Publishers’ Canadian House & Home and a product source guide in Avid Media’s Canadian Home and Country. (Avid has since been purchased by Transcontinental Media.)

‘It’s a way of having Visa be top of mind,’ says McNeil.

A bolder content sponsorship arrangement was made with West Coast food-and-beverage title Flavours, through sponsorship of ‘Tools of the Trade,’ a double-page editorial feature highlighting new kitchen and beverage-related gadgets and gizmos.

McIntyre says smaller or newer magazines are more open to innovation while bigger, more traditional books are strict and limit what advertisers can do – although they are becoming increasingly receptive.

She says: ‘We called some big publishers last year to ask if they would let Visa sponsor source guide pages. All of them but one said no. So we did it with Canadian Home and Country. This year when we started planning for next fiscal, all of the major magazines we [approached] allowed us to do it in some shape or form.’

Sophie Dutilloy, group product director for Neutrogena, a Johnson & Johnson division in Montreal, hasn’t been happy with the impact the brand has been making in print so she is also

trying new ‘look at me’ tactics. She says the message is bang on, but the ads are getting buried in the middle or back of the books.

For Neutrogena, and the skin care category in general, ad positioning is key. Dutilloy says that in many established fashion books one direct competitor has seemingly booked up premium positions through to eternity.

‘I think [the magazines] are starting to realize it’s causing an issue so they are trying to make up for it.’

Given the task of getting Neutrogena noticed, Christine Saunders, VP, group media

director on the Johnson & Johnson business at M2 Universal, Toronto, has found the two new titles in the shopping/lifestyle genre – LouLou, from Rogers Media and Wish, from St. Joseph Media – receptive to new ideas and working closely with advertisers.

‘[They're] a natural fit for beauty and fashion marketers. People are buying them for the ads as well as the editorial. Church and state [advertising and editorial] are not quite the sacred cows that we normally grapple with.’

Saunders adds: ‘I don’t really see the other [established] publications ramping up to meet them in terms of innovation.’

Some of the new ad options include LouLou stickers – little branded sticky notes readers put on the products throughout the magazine that they want on their shopping lists.

At Wish, Saunders has connected Neutrogena to the content by locking in with the Wish List feature via a Neutrogena-branded checklist readers write on, tear out, and take shopping with them.

For the introduction of a new J&J premium skincare line, Evian Infinity, Saunders and her M2 team proposed some new formats – a front-cover gatefold ad and branded polybags – that completely pre-empted a competitor’s inside-front-cover ad in the magazine.

Saunders explains: ‘There weren’t any premium positions left so that made us dream up new premium positions. With the front-cover gatefold, readers would see us first. If you flipped it to the other side, there would be another ad. I’m sure [the competition] wasn’t too happy but this was a launch and you go the extra mile for that.’

Magazines have also recently been successfully orchestrating cross-platform projects to help advertisers foster closer relationships with consumers.

Toronto-based music and pop culture monthly Exclaim! is a case in point of going that extra mile according to individual advertiser needs rather than with standard pre-packaged options – often with an event-related component.

Ian Danzig, publisher of the 13-year-old title, says because the magazine focuses on an 18- to 34-year-old audience that is passionate about music, the move into concert events was a logical one.

It started with an annual cross-country anniversary concert tour for Exclaim! that has now become a big relationship-building vehicle for advertisers looking to have a richer

experience with readers.

Danzig says ideas are generally the result of brainstorming.

‘It’s about being open and creative and coming up with unique marketing possibilities that go outside the norm. That [collaboration] is important for a younger audience because of their media-savvy nature.’

Jeep has been involved in the anniversary concert for the past two years. Last year, its campaign was also related; it showed a Jeep climbing a mountain that upon closer inspection was made of guitar picks.

Exclaim! has also staged various other events such as a DJ concert using iPod technology for Apple, DJ competitions for Puma clothing, and a concert tour for MuchMusic’s MuchLoud channel.

For advertisers looking to stick strictly with Exclaim!, the magazine also offers innovative opportunities; in the past Danzig and his sales team have done a number of different inserts including branded beer coasters, doorhangers, and smaller magazines.

Danzig says one of the most effective options, one with real staying power, has been sticker inserts.

‘Some advertisers have street teams they pay to poster a brand or band name all over town. We find when we do sticker inserts, the fans or readers take them home, put them on the fridge or up on the street. It ends up being very effective.

‘It’s completely spontaneous. They feel they’re doing something vandal-like but at the same time it gets the message out there.’
A bigger bang for your mag ad buck

The ‘change or be changed’ drive of
advertisers set a major media evolution in motion. The results include the mining and development of niche audiences by TV, radio, and newspapers – and their willingness to forge closer ties to advertisers. Magazines held off change a bit longer but are now
coming up with some new tricks of their own.
Esther Jean, print manager at ZenithOptimedia in Montreal, says new,
independent publishers shook up the
business with their readiness to explore
different and non-traditional ways of reaching consumers. More established titles have taken note and she says some of the major publishers have responded with new
products and niche titles – even in traditional categories such as fashion and beauty with, for example, Elle Canada, Wish, LouLou, Clin d’Oeil, Fashion 18, Elle Quebec, and FQ.
Here are some tips from the experts for getting the most out of magazine advertising:
* Work with new or small publications. They are more flexible and more open to innovation than established titles.
* Where appropriate, take advantage of multi-media projects that take your
brand across the magazine’s broadcast and Web properties to more closely connect with its community of readers. It also exploits net reach and frequency of all media involved.
* Push the envelope for a closer connection between advertising and editorial but respect the publication’s need to maintain its
credibility by ensuring that readers know the difference between the two.
*If you think your ad is going to get lost, innovate – invent a new ad format, position or feature to sponsor.