2014 EFFIE Award Preview: People Love 'People'

Category: Media Companies

Agency: The Terri & Sandy Solution and IN Marketing Services

Client: People Magazine

Title: People love People

Challenge: People has long been the nation’s number one newsstand magazine brand. But like every other magazine, People has been hit by the perfect storm.

  • In 2007 the Great Recession caused our target consumers to sacrifice “indulgent purchases” for family necessities. People’s $4 price tag became a barrier to sale. 
  • Online news sources created an entirely new competitive set for the magazine industry. Celebrity websites like TMZ and Perez Hilton and social sites like Facebook and Twitter fed our target’s desire to be “in-the-know” by offering instant access to the stars—for free.



Newsstand sales of “Weekly Celebrity Entertainment” magazines have suffered declines six years running, with People itself dropping by double-digit numbers.

The dramatic decline of the magazine industry, including the fall of esteemed publications like Newsweek, reflects the difficulty of our challenge. 

Our campaign objectives:

1. Achieve a positive ROI in one year

2. Get our loyal buyers (women 25-49 buying 9+ copies a year) to buy one more copy of the magazine each year 

Solution: While celebrity websites are seductive to our target, research revealed that they can leave her unsatisfied because the content is often negative, mean-spirited, and “gossipy.” Not so for People, which portrays celebrities in a more positive, optimistic, and inspiring light. Reminding our target of the amazing feeling she has while reading People could separate us from free, online alternatives and justify our $4 price tag. 

Our idea was to bring back the romance of celebrity news by paying tribute to the stars in all their glory, in a way that is uniquely People Magazine. We captured this in a tagline of three simple words: “People Love People.”  

Marrying People’s glamorous and exclusive celebrity photos with Bruno Mars’ triple platinum hit “Amazing/Just the Way You Are,” the campaign was the perfect way to remind consumers of the emotionally stirring experience waiting inside every issue.

Our communications strategy was based on three principles: 

First, we had to reach millions of People loyalists quickly, which meant mass media: TV, print, digital, and shopper marketing. 

Second, we had to leverage the magazine’s greatest selling tool: its cover. We created highly adaptable TV and digital ads. When new issues were released, creative was updated with the new cover the same day.

Third, we delivered the message in various touchpoints to close the sale before the checkout counter. Shopkick, a shopper rewards program, was used during shop planning. The magazine also partnered with brands she already buys (like Tropicana and Crayola) to get People into multiple aisles.  


  • The campaign resulted in an additional $27 million in newsstand retail revenue, translating to an incremental $2 in retail sales for every $1 spent.
  • Based on loyalty card data, our most loyal readers increased their newsstand purchasing 10.7%.
  • People’s score as “a brand I can trust” improved from 73.6% to 82.3%.

Considering the inexorable trends that magazines like People face, these are substantial achievements. They more than justified continuing the campaign in 2014.

Effie Awards are known by advertisers and agencies globally as the pre-eminent award in the marketing industry and recognize any and all forms of communication that contribute to a brand's success. Gold, silver and bronze Effie winners will be announced at the 46th annual North American Effie Awards gala on June 5 in New York. 

Next story loading loading..