How brands can be creative in magazine ads ?

We can see everywhere print is over. But we know it’s not. People still buy magazines and books but brands have to adapt to this new world. How to be creative ? How to surprise readers and engage conversation with a magazine or newspaper ?

Change the texture to be noticed

The usual habit when it comes to press advertising is to use a rigid page. It’s very common. Brands use to do it for a long time. Indeed, in magazines, the thick page stands out inexorably. You just browse through your magazine and always end up on the same page : the thick one advertising, most of the time, a new fragrance. Here, the only objective is to get into readers hands the most of the times possible. The more people see it and have it in the hands, the most they will remember the product, the brand and make the connexion with it in the retail store. Of course, the end of this is the sale 😉

But nowadays, with all the connectivity increasing as we know it, people getting invaded by advertising all around them, brands have to rethink their strategy. It includes, obviously, press advertising. That’s why, we can see very creative marketing actions taking place in magazines and not only on the Internet or, as I love it, in the street.

I give you some examples.

A page as big as an XXL condom

First, there is this Portuguese condom brand, Harmony, which illustrated its XXL condoms size by putting an infinite page in a magazine. The page was bent many times to fit the magazine size. Once bent, you could only see a blank page but unfolded, there was a small advert at the end of a huge white page. A creative idea which doesn’t cost that much.


Build your nescafe origami cup

As always, Nescafé wants to favor relationships. In this action, the brand get into work relationships. How ? By investing one of the most read newspaper : the free one, Metro. The brand placed origami cups in the newspaper. Parisians had to create the cups to share a coffee with a colleague once at the office.


Indeed, people read that kind of newspaper on their way to work. Most of them are released in the morning and accompany workers in the public transports. So it was a good way to invade the working place. And it’s a great animation for the morning coffee ritual which takes place in all work places. Don’t tell me otherwise !

A low cost for this action : even if it costs most than a simple ad space, the visibility and the fast propagation of it is really worth. Nescafé succeeded in bringing co-workers together, sharing the brand values : share, exchange, friendship.

Smell the difference

Multi-sensory marketing can also be used in press advertising. You can not only feel the difference under your fingers but also smell it. At least, that’s the idea of LG to sell its leather back covers. Thus, the smartphone brand decided to include in a magazine a full double page of 100% leather advert ! The brand message : « smell the difference ».


This is a perfect example of an ad that stops people for a second and makes them try the experience. The only thing we can blame the brand for (and no doubt the agency related) is the minimalism of the message on the page. We can doubt of the connexion made in people’s mind between the experience and the brand itself. Will they remember it was LG or will they confuse it with Motorala, Samsung, Alcatel or anything else.

Digital like operations

One of the most famous trends in this field is to link the paper and the internet. Of course, there is no brand, no products that can be trustful without an online life. Anybody looking for information is getting on the web to have it. That’s why the connected world has taken so much importance in any brand strategy. As a consequence, when companies want to innovate in the print area, they use the digital side and they link both of them.


There is many different ways to do so. Most of the brands just add a QR code (also named flash code) to bring the customer on an online store, a product page, a game or anything else related. But, there is some which have been further than that.

For example, the Brasilian festival LollaPalooza created an advert allowing people to listen to music directly by putting their phone on the magazine. They just needed to be equipped with the NFC technology.

Another example, Volkswagen, permitted readers to access wifi just by opening a magazine. Ford gave access to exclusive videos by putting down a smartphone on the page. Or that fashion brand (C&A) which created Facebook digital buttons on printed pages. Once the button pressed, the like goes on Facebook immediately. How is this possible ? People had register to receive a personal book linked to their personal account.


And there is even more : special operations. The kind of marketing actions you’ll remember, the kind creatives had found at the end of a tiring brainstorming.

Cleaning the face of models with Neutrogena

neutrogena-top magazine make up remover deep clean caras

The famous cosmetic brand got a very good idea. To show the efficiency of their make-up remover Deep Clean wipes, they created an advert allowing people to wash off the make-up from the model’s face. More than just giving out samples, this operation created a great buzz around the brand and people who tried it will remember for a long time. We can’t say it really demonstrates the efficiency of the product. Obviously, removing make-up from a magazine’s page isn’t the same as on your own facial skin but it has the advantage of being playful !

Printing a magazine with the blood of HIV people

HIV blood printed magazine sang associationVangardist magazine dared to created a magazine printed with blood of HIV people. Of course, handing a copy of the magazine carries absolutely no risk of infection, aiming to destigmatize what it means to come in contact with someone living with HIV. Shock and surprise are the key words of this campaign which is definitely spreading around the world.

Receiving a magazine in a concrete block

casa abril magazine decoration concrete bloc marketing operation

To promote a DIY brand, an agency decided to send home care magazine in a concrete block. Sculpted on it, the message « before decorate, you have to refurbish » (personal translation ^_^). To read the magazine, readers had to destroy the block ! Surprising and original, the action is perfectly linked to the brand universe. A good advert for the refurbishing stores.

Other ideas

And there are so many different ideas all around the word. We can talk about a magazine page able to refresh your beer or a very very small portfolio as personal brand content. We can remember Chevrolet who sent a press release totally written with emojis. And there’s this magazine tearing its pages to fight for printed press.

Anyway, there is everywhere so great ideas which make print and press counting. There is no war between web and print. Each media has its own place in consumer’s life. Brands just have to find the perfect way to get to their target. That’s their new issue : how to reach their audience.



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