Monthly Archives: January 2013

Cover of the moment!

InStyle UK knocks it out of the park with this brilliant new Agyness Deyn cover. Rankin’s picture is just terrific, and the presentation by Creative Director Tom Meredith is spot on.

InStyle can be a challenging cover to manage, as the logo is white out of a panel. As a result, flat colour can play a much greater part in the look and feel than Elle, Vogue or Harpers.

But here, the directness of the red is sensational. It’s aesthetically exciting, but also serves to underscore the authority, believablity and usefulness of Editor Eilidh MaCaskill’s coverlines.

The New Mood? Too right!

How a successful #hashtag strategy can define your brand

Following the shocking murder of two of their vendors a few weeks ago, The Big Issue have created this fine cover campaign celebrating the very thing that makes them special, their vendors.

But the beauty of this work lies not just in the cover (which is excellent) but in the hashtag, #celebrateyourvendor.

A magazine cover may well be the primary sales tool, but social media, and twitter in particular, is now pivotal is raising awareness of the print part of the brand, and driving purchase.

Here’s what Big Issue Editor Paul NcNamee (@pauldmcnamee) told me last week about the campaign:

‘I wanted to build on the connection people have with their vendors, and make something positive of the terrible events around the deaths. So, with that Newsweek cover somewhere in mind, I wanted a simple mechanism to combine the onstreet goodwill and essential sales, with a way to grow online presence. The idea is that people across Britain send us details, anecdotes and possibly pics of their vendors, we collect them and build up a load of great copy about our vendors and the relationship people have with them. And we get #celebrateyourvendor trending’

All-in-all, a simple and smart idea. And a hundred times better than the Newsweek cover Paul referenced.

Here it is, the very last print issue of Newsweek. When news of it’s closure was announced, there was a ton of talk about what Newsweek might have done differently, not least in my own coverthink post.

But no-one has yet said how rubbish this last cover was. To be fair, Newsweek didn’t have much left to say, other than comment on their own demise, but unlike the Big Issue’s hashtag, there is no real meaning here, no value, and nothing to celebrate. It’s just a backward looking attempt to try and stay relevant.

As with so many things in digital, the first brand to properly exercise the hashtag cover idea was the NME with #songthatchangedmylife.

Cathy Ma, Head of Social Media at IPC, has tracked the impressive story of this hashtag, and the response it created. First published by NME online Editor Luke Lewis in November 2011, the hashtag generated tens of thousands of interactions (30,000 on November 24th alone) and is still going strong as we speak

Spurred on by this success, NME took the story online, interviewing a host of stars about the song that changed their life. (I can’t get the video to embed, but you can watch it here) The blog post and the video both saw big traffic, along with strong ad revenue on account of high video CPMs.

Then, they took it to print, with this fine cover revealing who would be telling all inside, but keeping it highly engaging with the question, ‘What’s yours?’

And in this instance, print proved that it’s clearly not dead, as the cover sold like a train, up 7.8% year-on-year. It’s a fantastic case study of how a brand can leverage unique and valuable content across a true range of platforms.

Hashtag cover strategy: #howtosellanissue

Following the shocking murder of two of their vendors a few weeks ago, The Big Issue have created this fine cover campaign celebrating the very thing that makes them special, their vendors.

But the beauty of this work lies not just in the cover (which is excellent) but in the hashtag, #celebrateyourvendor.

A magazine cover may well be the primary sales tool, but social media, and twitter in particular, is now pivotal is raising awareness of the print part of the brand, and driving purchase.

Here’s what Big Issue Editor Paul NcNamee (@pauldmcnamee) told me last week about the campaign:

‘I wanted to build on the connection people have with their vendors, and make something positive of the terrible events around the deaths. So, with that Newsweek cover somewhere in mind, I wanted a simple mechanism to combine the onstreet goodwill and essential sales, with a way to grow online presence. The idea is that people across Britain send us details, anecdotes and possibly pics of their vendors, we collect them and build up a load of great copy about our vendors and the relationship people have with them. And we get #celebrateyourvendor trending’

All-in-all, a simple and smart idea. And a hundred times better than the Newsweek cover Paul referenced.

Here it is, the very last print issue of Newsweek. When news of it’s closure was announced, there was a ton of talk about what Newsweek might have done differently, not least in my own coverthink post.

But no-one has yet said how rubbish this last cover was. To be fair, Newsweek didn’t have much left to say, other than comment on their own demise, but unlike the Big Issue’s hashtag, there is no real meaning here, no value, and nothing to celebrate. It’s just a backward looking attempt to try and stay relevant.

As with so many things in digital, the first brand to properly exercise the hashtag cover idea was the NME with #songthatchangedmylife.

Cathy Ma, Head of Social Media at IPC, has tracked the impressive story of this hashtag, and the response it created. First published by NME online Editor Luke Lewis in November 2011, the hashtag generated tens of thousands of interactions (30,000 on November 24th alone) and is still going strong as we speak

Spurred on by this success, NME took the story online, interviewing a host of stars about the song that changed their life. (I can’t get the video to embed, but you can watch it here) The blog post and the video both saw big traffic, along with strong ad revenue on account of high video CPMs.

Then, they took it to print, with this fine cover revealing who would be telling all inside, but keeping it highly engaging with the question, ‘What’s yours?’

And in this instance, print proved that it’s clearly not dead, as the cover sold like a train, up 7.8% year-on-year. It’s a fantastic case study of how a brand can leverage unique and valuable content across a true range of platforms.

Shhhh! We’re still playing…

With the publication of their arthritis splash yesterday, The Daily Express is well on course to pick up either a cuddly toy or a box of chocolates. Many thanks to The Media Blog for tweeting this to my attention.

But aside from illustrating the mind-numbing cover process the poor Express Journalists have to go through, The Media Blog has loads of other stories detailing the misdeeds of Richard Desmond and his empire.

Fill your boots herehere, here and here!

‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts’

– Winston Churchill

Giles Duley and Don McCullin

Here are two photographers. On the left, Giles Duley, on the right, photo-journalist legend Don McCullin.

Don’s story is well documented, and currently the subject of his own film, McCullin. Over his lifetime he has won many awards for his work; images and stories from some of the most hopeless situations the human race can create for itself. His pictures are breathtaking, and his courage in taking them self evident.

This is one of his memorable Vietnam war images that appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine in the sixties. Five decades later, Don, now 77 and still working, has just come back from Allepo, currently one of the most dangerous places on earth. It’s one thing to go into a war zone armed with guns and grenades, but quite another to carry only a camera. Don is one very brave man.

In its own way, Giles’ reportage is no less accomplished, winning awards for telling deeply moving stories from some very dangerous places. He sure looks happy to have met Don, and so he should be, for by any measure he should be dead.

It was while on his own commission to cover the war in Afghanistan, that Giles stepped on a mine and lost three of his four limbs.

His tale has been extensively documented in the Guardian, the BBC and elsewhere. Like Don, Giles has had to contend with Becoming The Story, but for very different reasons. As demonstrated by this incredible self portrait, created with the assistance of Simon Vinall.

To live as a triple amputee requires the sort of courage I cannot begin to imagine. But doing a TED talk, that takes real nerve. As Giles says: ‘I spent the last 40 years hiding behind a camera so I didn’t have to speak’

This ten minute talk was rated by TED’s own team as one of the very best of the year. Watch it, and you can see why.

Giles says: ‘I became aware my body was a living example of what war does to someone. But that I could use my own experience to tell that story’

And the impact of that story, at least on me, was huge. As Giles eloquently reminds us in his talk, ‘You can do anything, if you put your mind to it’.

One knows one’s readers

Country Life has deservedly won the IPC Editors’ Cover Of The Month Award with this fine picture of…a couple of dogs. Folk may well think; ‘So what? Bung a cute animal on the front and you’re sorted, right?’

If only life were that easy.

Country Life is one of the UK’s premier media brands. Aside from its storied history, the frontspiece, known fondly as ‘Girls In pearls’ and the eye-watering number of posh country houses, it retains genuine clout and influence.

Which means the editorial team has the confidence to do stuff like this. It’s arrogant, it doesn’t give a stuff for the cover price or ‘demonstrating value’, but it totally knows its reader. Great photo, great line, great colours.

For more on how Country Life makes award winning covers, read my earlier blog post here.

Meet Mark Denton, the man behind the ‘worst’ magazine cover designs of all time

mark denton at IPCCreative Director and Advertising Legend Mark Denton came into IPC media last week, and gave a genuinely inspiring talk about his work to a totally packed house.

Mark has won an astonishing number of advertising and design awards across the spectrum. Press ads, posters, sculptures(!), books and logos, along with a solid stream of self promotional material. All of this has culminated in an exhibition at Leo Burnett, with a documentary and book to follow.

But aside from comic book stylings, excellent jokes and spoof magazine covers (more of that in a minute) what did he tell us, and what did we learn?

mark dentonMark’s talk made clear the two secrets to his sucess. The first is a willingness to embrace his own direction, his aesthetic corridor, as it were. The second is an absolute commitment to pushing that direction as far and hard as he can. As this self promotional item illustrates.

By his own admission, Mark’s enthusiasm is for schoolboy jokes with a very high level of finish. But after that, his energy in following through is amazing. All the ideas in the presentation seemed to start outside his day job; concepts, random ideas and weird connections. But by passionately driving them forward, they became real enough for others, both collaborators and clients, to buy into the madness.

Here’s yesterday’s fine post by Jim Davies, which details the six big ideas from his IPC talk. And here is how Mark himself explained his approach to Design Week a few months ago:

’Most people go down the pub, come up with crazy ideas, have a laugh, and then think no more about it,’ he says. ’The difference is, I’ll follow it through. And I’ll do it properly, too.

Design Week’s view of Denton’s style is; ‘Bold pastiche with a retro twist. Harking back to his childhood love of comics and TV, this accounts for his peculiarly British idiom and cultural references’. Pretty accurate, I’d say.

The rewards to this approach can be variable. More ideas must surely fail than succeed. Money has to risked upfront. Clients will always be on the edge of their seat. But get it right, and you’ll knock it out of the park. Product will shift, traffic will rise, awards and glory will follow. I can’t wait for the book, but for now, lets look at his spoof covers from earlier this year.

Spreadsheet enthusiast

Ad Week tells us that Leo Burnett copywriter Ben Gough came up with the idea of creating thoroughly undesirable magazine covers to wrap around his copies of the ad trade journal Lurzer’s Archive, which kept getting pinched off Ben’s desk.

The words are fun, but for Mark and his team to then come in and design something this knowing, this bad, takes real skill. From genius casting to the boring colourway and the functional font, every detail is perfect.

de-wormingThe covers were a hugely talked about and admired piece of work. The project may be a stunt, but from my point of view it’s a brilliantly effective way of keeping people talking about your brand. Brand Denton.

account man monthly This is my favourite of the set. I started designing covers in the eighties, so the font choices feel chillingly familiar. Combined with the nightmarish image, and the crass use of yellow, here is a piece of work that really does explain how advertising creatives regard their account manager peers.

They’re joking, right?

Wilko

Terrible news yesterday about Wilko Johnson. He’s got terminal cancer, and is not expected to live out the year. There’s been much reporting, but for those with an interest, this story from The Southend Echo, Wilko’s home town, is the best. The story reveals that he will be honouring his forthcoming touring commitments in Japan, among other places. And that he will flying first class, as ‘There was no point in hanging on to his savings’.

Wilko is one of my earliest heroes. I too grew up in Essex, just a few miles from Canvey Island, and for a little while in the mid to late 70’s Wilko and his music made me feel I was from the centre of the universe. This video clip is from the Geordie Scene in 1975. It’s totally pre-punk, and totally shows why Wilko’s talent was so unique.

He totally does it right.