When Marie Claire subscribers receive their August issues in the mail, they may experience a little bit of deja vu. For the second year in a row, the magazine has dedicated the month to denim — not just in content, but in advertising as well.
The 2014 denim issue featured a striking cover flap (see video below) sponsored by Guess that required subscribers to pull open a paper zipper to reveal the newsstand cover underneath it. By all accounts, the cover was a success: it got a lot of press; it won a Clio Award for cover art; and a survey afterwards revealed 100 percent of the readers who received the issue remembered that Guess was the advertiser.
Marie Claire Publisher Nancy Berger Cardone planned a new "reveal" element for this year's iteration in partnership with footwear brand Frye. A select 500,000 subscribers in key markets around the country will receive their August issue in a glossy, thick envelope featuring a Marie Claire logo, denim patchwork and a Frye boot on one side (see image above) and Frye print advertisement on the other.
"The minute that that lands in your mailbox and you bring it in, you’re going to know it's the denim issue," said Cardone."You’ve got to open something to really see the cover and see what's happening — it's like opening a gift."
Frye may not be a denim company, but the partnership made sense for the brand because its boots lend themselves to being styled with denim. The footwear company also wanted to drive traffic to its website and capture data from women across the country; to that end, Marie Claire organized a sweepstakes element by partnering with cover star Kristen Stewart. Readers can enter to win a trip to the premiere of her new movie "American Ultra" in Los Angeles, a meeting with her and a pair of Frye boots.
Marie Claire has a penchant for thinking outside the box when it comes to print advertising opportunities beyond the traditional page buys. In May 2014, it partnered with Maybelline for the "Fresh Faces" issue, featuring a multi-layered cover flap that folded out to reveal all five cover stars (see below). Cardone says it was the biggest cover in the history of publishing in terms of size.
"When you’re reading a magazine, you can test fragrance or you can open something or have a different kind of tactical experience," said Cardone. "We find that this is something that adds to the experience and our audience really appreciates it. They remember it, they like participating in it, they do feel cool and it adds to their engagement with it."
Cardone says the only kind of complaints the magazine has received about the sponsored cover reveals are from subscribers who didn't receive one and wish they had. But with 870,000 subscribers, the production cost can be prohibitive for advertisers. The zipper Guess cover, however, did go to all subscribers and Cardone told Ad Age last year that it cost the company somewhere in the "mid six figures." She declined to comment on the cost of Frye's partnership.
Just this past April, the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) removed it's rule barring advertisements on the covers of magazines. And while Marie Claire's cover partnerships haven't technically been on the cover (but rather something that must be opened to reveal the cover), Cardone thinks ASME's decision reflects an industry trend of considering different kinds of advertising opportunities.
"All media channel have figured out ways to do native ideating and magazines have a been a little bit behind," she said. "My feeling has always been to do it, but don’t trick the reader." Cardone used a Samsung Galaxy flap attached to the June 2015 cover (see below) as an example.
"There's no editorial or coverlines on that cover flap and it says, 'Presented by Samsung.' I think as long as you’re making it an added part of the experience and you’re not trying to trick the reader, it adds something. That is what we want to do and why advertisers want to be a part of it, too. They want to be a part of an enhanced experience."
Cardone promises the magazine will only continue to push the boundaries when it comes to innovative advertising methods. "I’m going to figure out how to actually get denim [on the cover]," she said. "I’m not giving up on that."