“This represents an unprecedented experiment in hiper-individualizing a commercial print publication”
Nick Gillespie, Editor-in-Chief of Reason, in the June 2004 issue
Monthly libertarian magazine Reason pulled off the ultimate in customized publishing when its 40.000 subscribers received their June 2004 copy with a satellite photo of their own neighbourhood on the cover and their house circled in red. On the back cover readers found adverts customized to them and their neighbourhood. The stunt accompanied the magazine’s cover article about the power and importance of databases to customize information.
When the 40,000 subscribers to Reason, the monthly libertarian magazine, receive a copy of the June issue, they will see on the cover a satellite photo of a neighborhood – their own neighborhood. And their house will be graphically circled.
On one level, the project, sort of the ultimate in customized publishing, is unsurprising: of course a magazine knows where its subscribers live. But it is still a remarkable demonstration of the growing number of ways databases can be harnessed. Apart from the cover image, several advertisements are customized to reflect the recipient’s particulars.
Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason, said the magazine, with an editorial mission of “Free Minds, Free Markets,” used the stunt to illustrate the cover article about the power and importance of databases.
“Our story is man bites dog,” Mr. Gillespie said. “Everybody, including our magazine, has been harping on the erosion of privacy and the fears of a database nation. It is a totally legit fear. But they make our lives unbelievably easier as well, in terms of commercial transactions, credit, you name it.”
Rodger Cosgrove, president of Entremedia, a direct marketing firm and a member of Reason’s board, assisted in coming up with a program that allows the subscriber list to be integrated with satellite photographs. He also worked with Xeikon, the manufacturer of the printer that made the endless customization possible.
“They were interested in showing what this technology could do,” he said, “and we were interested in demonstrating the power of databases to customize information.”
The cover article, written by Declan McCullagh, suggests that while databases can lead to breaches in privacy, it allows Dell to provide instant credit to computer buyers, grocery stores to stock goods that their customers want, and mortgage lenders to keep their rates down.
“It’s obvious that databases provide enormous benefits to modern life,” said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “We could no more operate without computer databases than we could without electricity.”
“That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still some serious debates to have about government databases,” he added, “including the monitoring of the general American public under John Poindexter’s Total Information Awareness program and the passenger profiling that has gone on.”
In some respects, Reason’s cover stunt is less Big Brother than one more demonstration that micromarketing is here to stay. “My son gets sports catalogs where his name is imprinted on the jerseys that are on the cover,” Mr. Rotenberg said. “He thinks that’s very cool.”
In his editor’s note describing the magazine’s database package, Mr. Gillispie left open three spots – commuting time, educational attainment and percentage of children living with grandparents – so he could adapt his message to individual readers. Mr. Gillespie said that the parlor trick could have profound implications as database and printing capabilities grow.
“What if you received a magazine that only had stories and ads that you were interested in and pertained to you?” he asked. “That would be a magazine that everyone would want to read.”
Agency: Entremedia, USA
In 1998, Titanic topped Star Wars as the #1 box office movie of all time. In congratulations, George Lucas bought this full-page ad inVariety, in which the Star Wars crew jumps out of the sinking ship and into the ocean of second place.
Apparently, it is a Hollywood tradition for directors who have their #1 records smashed to take out full page ads congratulating the new record-holders. When Star Wars broke Jaws‘ record, Steven Spielberg congratulated George Lucas by taking out a full-page ad with a picture of R2-D2 snagging Jaws on a fishing line.
Thereafter, E.T. beat Star Wars and held the record for a while. This was the message to Steven Spielberg from George Lucas in 1983 congratulating Spielberg for E.T passing Star Wars in the movie rental takings…
But Star Wars Special Edition reclaimed #1 in 1997. The result? Another full-page ad in which E.T. puts a crown on R2’s head…
Steven Spielberg, director of E.T., honored his friend Lucas with an advertisement in Daily Variety, the entertainment industry magazine, with a picture of E.T., the alien from the movie, putting a crown on top of R2-D2, the small robot from Star Wars.
“Dear George,” the ad read, “Congratulations for renewing the most enduring motion picture in cinema history. Your pal, Steven.”
Annual reports—traditionally soul-crushing visual creations—are suddenly getting creative. First, we had the eyewear maker that packaged its annual report as an eye-catching infographic. Now, we have a stunning annual report from the Austria Solar trade association—whose text and graphics are invisible until revealed by sunlight.The work is an elegant expression of the constant radiating power of the sun and an eye-catching way for Austria’s pre-eminent solar trade association to associate themselves with innovative thinking.
Creative director Cosimo Möller says he was working on a terrace when inspiration struck. “It was one of the last sunny days in October,” he says. “The sun was shining on my notepad and was reflected so intensely that I wasn’t able to read my words anymore. So, the idea was born: Does it work the other way round?”
This brilliantly crafted annual report for Verband Austria is almost a sure bet to pick up a Cannes Design Lion.
Advertising Agency: Serviceplan
Chief Creative Officer: Alexander Schill
Creative Director: Christoph Everke, Cosimo Möller, Alexander Nagel
Art Director: Matthäus Frost
Graphic Design: Matthäus Frost, Mathias Nöselfilming
The brief was to create a newspaper ad to advertise the desirable (yet affordable) Volkswagen Polo. Our research showed that when you see a Polo, you want one, so we targeted people in the market for a new car and placed our ad in the Motoring section.
The creative solution
Working off the “love at first sight” strategy, we ran a double-sided ad. The front set up the desire, while the back allowed a unique response. Using the ad helped readers to sell their current car, while at the same time helping us advertise the Polo. In effect, this symbiosis turned a print ad into an ambient one. Our expectation was that if just a small fraction of readers (even 1%) used the ad, it would extend the message of Polo’s desirability to a far wider audience than just that of the paper.
It was a simple, cheeky idea, asking people to get rid of their car upon seeing ours, and getting them to use their own vehicle to help punt the Polo – ideal for a brand that has always relied on simple, cheeky communication.
The interaction between consumers and the ad turned car windows into a new media space. Our target market’s own cars (most of them competitor models like Toyotas and Fords) became mini billboards for the Polo’s sheer desirability. Furthermore, anecdotal evidence suggested that approximately 3% of readers used the ad – meaning that our simple, low-cost idea generated thousands of dollars in earned outdoor media.
Advertising Agency: Ogilvy Cape Town, South Africa
Executive Creative Director: Chris Gotz
Creative Director: Chris Gotz
Art Director: Prabashan G. Pather
Copywriter: Sanjiv Mistry
Insights, Strategy & the Idea
Iwate Nippo, a newspaper company in a rural Japanese town, faced the problems of dwindling circulation and a growing indifference on the part of youth towards newspapers. The newspaper needed something to help it break free from these trends and create a new bond with readers as a ‘newspaper loved by local residents. ‘ Although today’s world is applauded for its globalization, we focused on the local residents who are the newspaper’s clients and created a system in which individual readers could utilize the media power of the newspaper to communicate any type of good news, be it small, everyday types of happiness or huge, life-altering types of happiness.
To create a new bond with readers as a “newspaper loved by local residents,” the newspaper decided to celebrate its readers’ good news. This is how IWATTE was born. IWATTE is a special edition newspaper service that anyone can use to publish their news. Users can easily sign up online and then share their printed newspapers with friends and family. We proposed the IWATTE system in which readers communicate their news to the newspaper, which would then print that news, because to a reader, happy news close to home is just as important as world news. The service was embraced by a large number of readers and created a lot of buzz. After the service was launched, the buzz grew even larger and was eventually a hot topic among the media despite the fact that almost no advertisements had been run in the mass media.
Results and Effectiveness
・2 million hits to the Iwate Nippo website since the launch of IWATTE
・151% increase in awareness of Iwate Nippo since the launch of the service according to a survey
・20% increase in young people wanting to join the company compared to the previous year
・100% maintenance of circulation since the launch of IWATTE
Advertising Agency: Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Tokyo