Magazine design and advertising in magazines have more or less remained the same for decades now. There may have been the odd novelty in over sized magazines or odd shapes but there’s been nothing like what Esquire is attempting with its 75th Anniversary issue, due in October. In this special issue 100,000 copies (of the 720,000 print run) will have a digital cover. On it the words ‘the 21st Century begins now’ will flash.
This uses the same E Ink technology that is behind Amazon’s Kindle. According to Wired Magazine: The price, although undisclosed, is prohibitive, and Ford has been brought in as a “sponsor”: A moving car ad will appear on the inside cover. Esquire even had to design a battery (a “six-figure investment”) that was small enough to fit into a magazine and keep things running until the mags are sold. The batteries will last for 90 days.
The distribution of the magazine was a logistics feat in itself – involving refrigerated trucks – to preserve the battery life. The sponsor, Ford has a double-page ad for its SUV Flex inside the magazine with the word’s “electrifying the night” flashing – to give the illusion of moving words and images. They wanted to include ‘motion’ in the marketing plan, as much as possible.
Is this the future of magazine advertising? I think this has novelty value but nothing beyond that. This is the equivalent of a flashy, high production value TV commercial which attempts to dazzle you with execution, rather than the idea.
And when you need to break the clutter in magazine design you don’t necessarily need high technology. Remember the TIME magazine cover of 2006? They simply placed a mirror on the cover when ‘You’ were the Person of the Year. There’s a lesson in this somewhere for advertising ideas too.