Men's Fitness, Shape Use New Lumia Phone To Shoot October Covers

Say you’re marketing a new phone that has a camera so advanced, you believe, that a pro could use it to shoot the cover photo for a high-profile consumer magazine. How would you promote it?

Well, if you’re Starcom MediaVest Group you go find a high-profile magazine (two actually) willing to do a cover photo using the camera. Which is what they did for Nokia’s new Lumia 1020 Windows smart phone.

In a move that further blurs the lines between editorial and advertising in the print world, SMG struck a deal with American Media Inc. to shoot cover photos—as part of an integrated, multiplatform ad buy--for the just-out October issues of both Men’s Fitness and Shape magazines using the new phone from Nokia, which is being acquired by Microsoft for $7-plus billion. Men’s Fitness featured Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, while the Shape cover featured recording artist Kelly Rowland.

According to Robin Steinberg, MediaVest's Executive Vice President, Director Publishing Investment and Activation, who led the negotiations on behalf of client Microsoft in partnership with Nokia, the agency actively sought out a publisher willing to use the phone to shoot cover photos. AMI agreed to do so in a format that allows readers to compare phone photos with a photo taken with normal pro gear.

“We felt we had to do that in order to fully showcase the advanced capabilities” of the new camera phone, said Steinberg. She believes the deal ties editorial and advertising together in a “deeply integrated fashion” that few if any publishers have been willing to embrace up to now. “Innovate more,” she said, is the lesson for publishers.

As part of the deal, Men’s Fitness and Shape, shot three cover photos each for their October issues. The outside covers were shot with professional cameras. The first inside spread includes the first of a four-page Lumia ad touting the benefits of its camera. Opposite the ad in Men’s Fitness is a second editorial cover featuring Wilson that was shot with the Lumia phone. That page has a photo credit that reads: “Photographed with the Windows Phone Nokia Lumia 1020.” And the ad opposite it highlights the phone’s camera features with an actual size version of the phone and copy that reads in part: “It’s easy to shoot like a pro. We shot Russell Wilson with the Windows Phone Nokia Lumia 1020.”

A second spread follows with another full-page ad on the left and a third editorial cover also shot with the phone. The two phone-shot covers are slightly different from the outside cover, which is cluttered with references to other editorial content in the magazine. The inside covers instead feature bold-faced quotes from Wilson along with a prominent photo credit for the Lumia. The third cover is followed by a two-page ad spread dominated by big pictures of the phone.

The point of the multiple covers is to allow readers to compare for themselves how close the quality of the cover images are, said Steinberg. The whole ad-editorial package, she added, “allows us to take the most premium of space in the magazine—the cover—and do a deep integration with the phone.”

To some degree, Steinberg asserted, SMG, the client and AMI “reinvented” the editorial process in a way that most publishers continue to resist. The re-invention theme fits nicely with Microsoft’s effort to position its Windows phone as “reinvented around” the consumer, she said.

Steinberg credited AMI and the editors at MF and Shape with “stepping up” to do the deal. “They realize the value to consumers,” as the package “brought to life the capabilities of the camera.”

The deal also includes a one-week home page “takeover” of the MF and Shape websites. Also featured online is a “behind the scenes” video highlighting the project and how it came together. 

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