*The following is an excerpt from the book Brands Win Championships*
One of the most tried-and-true forms of advertising, print can be a great awareness driver, despite its inherent lack of engagement as compared to digital. When you are debating print, you must first determine what scale of audience you’re looking to target. If it’s local and you’re simply trying to fill seats, your hometown or state papers and magazines will do the job. If it’s national and you’re looking to drive broader awareness around your program, you really need to start looking at wider-reaching publications.
The other thing to consider here is frequency. How many consecutive insertions (the number of consecutive issues your ad appears in) can you afford in a given publication? My own personal rule is a minimum of three. If I can’t afford to be in three consecutive issues, print isn’t in the cards for me. That’s because I’ve learned and believe it takes at minimum three views of an ad for it to stick with the audience.
The last thing I’ll say about print is that if you’re going to use it, you better be doing something that stands out. That means telling a unique and compelling story. Build around a culture moment, such as a highly anticipated game or new uniform launch—things that you know will elicit emotion from your audience. Second, make sure your creative jumps off the page, stands out, and gets people talking!
I’ve had the good fortune of working on some pretty amazing projects in my time at adidas. The print example that stands out is the story we manufactured for the 2013 NFL combine. For years we had the lightest cleat in football, and many of the elite high school players knew about it. It was a story that struck a chord. But at that point, every football brand was pushing speed. The truth of the matter was, only the brand with the lightest cleat could truly substantiate the claim of being the “fastest.” That was us. We needed to make it known. We needed to disrupt. The combine was our platform. On the day the first group of skill players ran the forty-yard dash, we wrapped the cover of the Indianapolis Star (where the combine was held) with an ad that simply read, “Run the fastest 40, get a contract offer—adidas Football.” It was a simple, easy-to-read ad that had two things going for it: the creative jumped off the page and caught your attention from newsstands using big and bold lettering that could be read from a distance, and the story itself was unique and dripping with swagger. No brand had ever made such an offer; it made people stop and say, “Holy cow, look at what adidas did.” We spent very little money on the idea, but it was such a compelling story, and it executed so well on the cover of the Star that ESPN ran the story on their home page, traditionally a space reserved for sport-specific stories, not brand integrations. Adidas Football had never achieved that level of coverage from the nation’s top sports news source. The project was deemed a tremendous success and only furthered our association with speed and lightweight footwear.
As is the case with any medium, do something unexpected or run the risk of blending in.