Yes Terry, there is value in magazine advertising

With utmost respect for Francis P. Church, whose art as the greatest editorial writer of all time I shall hereby humbly attempt to mimic, I take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication excerpted below from a May 2010 correspondence, expressing at the same time my gratification that its author is numbered among the friends of Atlantic Business Magazine.

Dear Editor—I’m an adman from Toronto, and the host of The Age of Persuasion on CBC Radio One. I’m in Halifax to do a book tour event, was just reading your beautiful magazine, and wanted to drop you a line to tell you why I instantly loved your “print challenge”. —Terry O’Reilly

The “print challenge” to which Terry refers is what we here at Atlantic Business Magazine affectionately denote as our “Great Ad Experiment”. Having become aware of the cynicism of technological aficionados to whom print is as passé as little Virginia’s Christmas elf, we sought – not to disparage or denigrate emerging media – but to remind the advertising public that print has been and always will be a powerful friend. And so we sought to re-engage those intellects which have been so disaffected by the scepticism of this most sceptical age.

Our first step was to recruit the hearts and minds of six of the most creative advertising agencies in Atlantic Canada while simultaneously engaging a client with the courage to push past traditional boundaries of corporate brand protectionism. Thus did those six agencies (Colour-NL, Extreme Group, Impact Communications, Spark Marketing, Spectacle Group and The Idea Factory) focus their collective talents on developing imaginative, transformational print campaigns for our most courageous of clients, Lawtons.

A word, if I may, on the subject of courage: in this instance, it was defined by a willingness to allow public and focus group voting to determine which of the six submitted campaigns would appear in this magazine, and to do so without refinement or revision. The chosen campaign, an interactive ad from Spectacle Group that invited readers to physically simplify the intended message via a folding process, appeared in three consecutive issues of Atlantic Business Magazine over a six month period.

That, however, was only half of the matter. The more important portion, for our larger audience, relates to the findings of our experiment. Along with the print campaign, Spectacle Group created a companion website ( The only public direction to that site was in the pages of Atlantic Business Magazine and through online advertising on our website. Speaking with Janane Chater, Lawtons’ inhouse creative champion, she revealed that the website experienced 544 distinct visitors, 80 per cent of whom were direct traffic. Though viral videos on YouTube can draw in millions of viewers, unless it’s an anti-corporate anthem like “United Kills Guitars”, chances are that you can’t remember which company sponsored which quasi-spontaneous dance in which train station/airport/shopping mall.

In our experiment, more than 400 different individuals were sufficiently motivated by the ad in our magazine to type the website address into their internet browser. Why did they go there? Not for entertainment or amusement, but to specifically seek information on Lawtons’ services and programs.

As well, an informal survey conducted via our electronic newsletter showed that the Lawtons ad ranked number one for top of mind awareness among Atlantic Business Magazine readers. The same survey also revealed that males were more likely to follow the fold instructions to reveal the “simplified” message, while women were more likely to go to the website.

“Print works,” quoth Janane. “It just has to be the right creative, in the right publication. That’s what we have here. We are very pleased with the results of this experiment.”

Not believe in the power of print? You might as well surrender your senses of touch and smell and sound. Why, print is the most interactive of all the media! Who among us has never experienced the tactile pleasure of the paperback novel? Smelled the library’s aged wisdom? Heard the happy crinkle of newly printed page, and devoured the timelessness of Shakespearean ink? Can a website be framed for posterity? Will your grandparents boast of Wikipedia entry?

Ah Terry, you were so right. In a world of speedboat advertising, magazines truly are the yachts. In 10 years, nay 10 times 10 years, we will continue to make glad the hearts of readers and advertisers everywhere.

Dawn Chafe
About Dawn Chafe

For the past 19 years, Dawn has been editor of Atlantic Canada’s most award-winning and largest circulation business magazine: Atlantic Business Magazine. Under her editorial direction, Atlantic Business Magazine has won 14 Atlantic Journalism Awards, three TABBIE international business press awards and two KRW national business press awards.

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