Dong Kim, Karin Grecu and Jenny Yumiba
'They said, 'You're nuts,'" jokes Joshua Spanier, media supervisor for Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. "'It's a huge waste of money.'"
Spanier is referring to the ad community's reaction to Goodby's plan to spend $10 million on a magazine branding campaign for Hewlett-Packard's digital-imaging products. But that campaign, which consisted of 20-page inserts placed in more than a dozen publications in last year's third quarter, got the job done: It cut through in a medium that HP's rivals have dominated for decades. For that accomplishment, and for its creative ingenuity, San Francisco–based Goodby has been honored with the Media Plan of the Year for Best Use of Magazines.
Traditionally, established photography brands strive for reach and frequency, churning out a bunch of spreads and pages in large publications, often ending up with adjacent placements. But this wasn't just any photography company, and Goodby wasn't planning to convey its message with a typical campaign.
"It was certainly a different strategy for us," recalls Scott Berg, director of global media for Hewlett-Packard. "It was really more lifestyle-oriented than anything else, so we needed to be different. We couldn't compete in the marketplace on a straight gross ratings point perspective with a lot of the big players, so we had to find a way to stand out in unique environments."
Goodby also had to figure out how to use HP's breadth of product offerings to its advantage. With its broad range of products, the company competes with "everybody from Kodak and Fuji, the pure photography players, to IBM and EDS on the enterprise side," explains Peter Stabler, media director at Goodby. "There is nobody out there that has the hardware breadth of HP, but that presents us with some unique challenges." Namely, that consumers don't consider HP to be as much of a consumer-electronics innovator as Sony or Canon. But what HP's breadth does offer, the Goodby team realized, is an "end-to-end solution," offering consumers all the components for digital photography, including cameras, printers, paper, computers and ink.
In conceiving the inserts, which in part highlighted HP's new line of digital cameras, Goodby looked at the impact the digital revolution has had on photography. "Our position was to say the digital camera could become a natural extension of, or appendage to, your being, that you are free from the tyranny of the photo lab."
The key, then, would be to marry the media with the creative, to ignore the conventional wisdom of reach and frequency and instead outsmart the competition by going after high-impact placements to ensure HP would get noticed big-time. That entailed closely examining which magazines would be best-suited to articulate the dynamism of digital photography. The Goodby team, which included associate director Dong Kim, media supervisor Karin Grecu and planner Jenny Yumiba, focused on magazines that offered the right mix of inspiring, passionate or dramatic photographic content. "Titles had to celebrate and elevate photography, using it to illustrate their editorial as much as the words they wrote," says Spanier.
Consequently, how-to, instructional magazines were left out in the cold. Also left out were enthusiast titles such as Popular Photography, because HP would not be able to achieve an acceptable share of voice there. Also, because such magazines tend to focus on the functionality of digital photography, they didn't offer the sort of inspirational environment Goodby was after.
"We decided that it's travel, it's fashion, it's sport," says Stabler. "How can you imagine your appreciation of these subjects without photography?"
"There were environments that we went into where the numbers were pretty good, but they weren't the strongest," says Kim, referring to Vogue and The New Yorker. "You would not traditionally see a lot of consumer-electronics ads [in those magazines]."
Other titles selected to get the HP inserts included People, Entertainment Weekly, In Style, ESPN The Magazine, GQ, Travel+Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler.
The bold, colorful inserts invited readers to hop onto HP's digital revolution. "Re-think everything you know about photography," says one headline, continuing, "You are a point-and-shoot revolutionary with an itchy shutter finger." The pages of the insert focused on HP products, including cameras, PCs and printers, without the mind-numbing technical specs.
One of the inserts ran in Entertainment Weekly's Oct. 10 photography issue. "HP is one of the premiere entertainment marketers and they definitely understand the connection with what we do editorially and what our consumers want," says Entertainment Weekly publisher Paul Caine. "They capture that in what they are doing creatively in the magazine. Their brand promises innovation, and they deliver it not only in their products but also in their ads."
"The ads are a little edgier and smart," adds In Style president Stephanie George. "They're fun and cool."
The New Yorker also got a customized spread in its April photo-themed onsert, an editorial supplement that celebrated the 10th anniversary of the weekly's first use of photography in its pages. There was also an HP spread in that issue that carried a Q&A with legendary photographer Richard Avedon.
The results of the campaign are impressive. According to Goodby, consumers' consideration to buy HP digital photography products "rocketed" by 8 percent. Market research firm Milward Brown noted, "to move consideration so far in just 17 weeks is unheard-of. It's an amazing result."
The agency, working closely with Starch, a research tool, says the inserts achieved record-breaking awareness scores of higher than 90 percent. Starch also found great levels of "reader take-out, appreciation and enjoyment." Among the results: consideration to buy HP digital photographic products among readers of EW rose from 13 percent to a whopping 52 percent; In Style, from 3 percent to 48 percent; People, from 3 percent to 53 percent.
But the challenge for Goodby won't end with HP. "We're continually challenged to try to do the next thing," says Kim. "The media marketplace is completely different, and you have to find ways of breaking through, you have to find ways of being creative to make sure people are seeing your message."
General editor Lisa Granatstein covers magazines for Mediaweek.