High Tech 'Interactive' Print Ads Grab Consumer Attention - USA Today

USA Today, October 1, 1007

New, 'interactive' print ads fight for your attention

By Laura Petrecca

The Web has an unlikely new rival when it comes to "interactive" advertising: magazine pages.

As technology for song-producing audio chips and light-powering batteries gets smaller — and cheaper — marketers are using the devices in print ads. For instance, a button on a new Yellow Tail wine ad sets off four blinking firefly tails.

Even more low-tech print ads have become more innovative. Advertisers have added offbeat objects for consumers to "play" with, such as temporary tattoos, plant seeds and even a nearly 3-foot-long replica of an Ultimate Fighting Championship belt.

Anything goes to try to stand out amid ad clutter.

"The average American adult is exposed to about 3,000 advertising or brand messages a day," says Rob Gregory, group publisher of men's magazine Maxim. "If you're going to be that one in 3,000 that gets remembered — or even noticed — you have to have something that is unprecedented."

For the October issue, Maxim teamed with Lionsgate Home Entertainment to create a "rip proof" synthetic paper page promoting the DVD of tough-guy flick The Condemned.

The ad asks readers to send Maxim a video, picture or written explanation of their "strategy for attacking" the paper for a chance at tickets to a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) SmackDown.

The clever idea got Lionsgate into print. "We normally don't do a lot of print advertising," says Lionsgate Home Entertainment head of marketing Anne Parducci. "We typically need to show the action or the story of a movie, and we'll try to do that more visually with television or online."

Consumers should expect more quirky advertising like this, says Philip Sawyer, director of GfK Starch Advertising Research. Technological advances have made multifaceted magazine advertising easier to do.

A GfK study released last November found that "spectacular" print ads — those that had extra oomph, such as scent strips, audio chips or even more pages in a layout — stick in readers' minds.

For instance, 96% of readers remembered seeing an Aquafina sparkling water ad with a bottle-shaped piece of bubble wrap in the issue in which it ran. An ad for Clairol Herbal Essences with Hawafena played a song Haw-a-fena (to the tune of Handel's Hallelujah chorus) that was remembered by 100% of readers.

An "emotional" connection makes such ads stand out, says Tim Clegg, CEO of Americhip, which creates magazine inserts such as the blinking Yellow Tail ad. In a digital world, "People still communicate with sight, touch, taste and smell," he says.

Of course, just adding a light or sound chip won't make an ad effective, GfK Starch's Sawyer says. It still must work with the brand's message. "Everything depends on how good the creative execution is," he says.

Some print ad creativity:

•Flashing lights.

Yellow Tail's blinking ad will appear in nearly 600,000 copies of the November Real Simple. A push of a button sets off light-emitting diodes (LED) powered by a battery. The result: iridescent yellow firefly tails.

•Tattoo you.

A Yellow Tail ad in more than 600,000 copies of The New Yorker's Oct. 22 issue features a rub-on tattoo of a yellow-tailed dragon.

Such unusual ads have "100% stopping power," says Jeff Johnson, general manager of Yellow Tail ad agency Cramer-Krasselt/Hampel Stefanides. He also notes they stand out as "something you don't normally see in wine advertising."

•Pull-out booklets.

To promote mobile service provider Helio, ad agency Deutsch LA produced a booklet that's a "crash course" on communicating in a digital world. One page explains text message abbreviations such as GA for Go Away. The insert has run in publications including GQ, Spin and Allure.

•Good tastes.

To promote the new show Cane, about a family-run rum business, CBS worked with marketing agency Initiative to place rum-flavored "taste strips" in the Sept. 20 issue of Rolling Stone.

•Seeding the market.

To advertise vitamin-enhanced Alive water, Aquafina attached wildflower seeds to a People ad in March.

•Fold-out props.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship included a paper "championship belt" in the September issue of Maxim. Readers who took a photo of themselves with the belt could send it to ufc.maxim.com for a chance on a trip to a UFC fight.

•Sniff and listen.

Diet Pepsi Jazz's pop-up ad not only had a scratch-and-sniff tab that emitted a black-cherry and French vanilla scent, it also played a jazzy tune when opened. Media agency OMD placed it in select markets last year in People.

While interactive print ads can be "clever and innovative," GfK Starch's Sawyer warns that there is one rule: The ads can't be disruptive for readers. They have to be able to play — or not — as they choose. "If the ads start talking to (readers) and singing to them when they don't want it, they'll get irritated."


Green fees.

How to get ad execs to ante up to attend another annual conference?

Roll out the heavy-hitter speakers.

And the golf carts.

Sharing the spotlight as keynote speakers for the Association of National Advertisers Annual Conference in Phoenix Oct. 11-14 will be: Al Gore, hotter-than-hot guru of global warming and (recycled) red-carpet regular at show-biz award shows (beats being a second-banana vice president), and Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer.

A golf tournament is scheduled, of course, as is a tennis tournament.

The event at the Arizona Biltmore is expected to attract more than the 1,000 who attended last year, says Bob Liodice, ANA chief executive.

Hope the ANA remembered to order carbon offsets.

Unilever's UL Dove made a splash bringing to the USA three years ago its Campaign for Real Beauty, which tries to reassure women that beauty means more than being young, skinny and flawless. Most recently it had a Web hit with a video showing all the cosmetic and digital trickery needed to turn a real woman into an advertising vixen on a billboard. But after two years of double-digit sales growth, year-to-date sales are flat at $424 million, according to tracker IRI.

Web hit, Dove will post a video on Tuesday that again bashes advertising imagery as the enemy of female self-esteem. "Onslaught" by agency Ogilvy & Mather shows the barrage of pop-culture images of beauty — most advertising — that bombard a young girl each day.


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