Mistake Or Intentional? Newspaper Runs Without Pictures

If newspaper pictures tell a story, then what happens when a daily newspaper runs without photos? The boxes, where photos should be, ran blank except for a tiny graphic in the middle -- the universal sign of a broken image link.

Is someone going to lose his or her job for letting such an egregious error go to press? Not this time, because this faux pas was intentional.

TBWA Copenhagen recently released a case study on a campaign it created last November that had readers of the free daily, Metro, assuming their batch of newspapers was inadvertently published without photos.

This photo outage happened globally, so regular readers took to social media to poke fun at Metro’s glaring error. In reality, those missing pictures served as in-house ads for The Metro Photo Challenge. The agency was tasked to increase the number of entrants in Metro’s yearly photo contest, with no media budget.

Metro revealed the reason for publishing a newspaper without pictures in the following day’s edition, using an in-house ad to ask readers: “Did you miss anything in the paper yesterday?”

The Metro Photo Challenge received an increase in participants by 377%, along with 139% more photos submitted.

“To publish an entire newspaper without pictures and make it look like the worst mistake ever in the history of newspapers is a quite simple idea -- and yet quite daring to conceive,” says Tom Olsen, creative director at TBWA Copenhagen.

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