Vice Magazine Invents the ‘Glow-in-the-Dark Cover Ad’ Business


They say that with plumbing, eventually the water is going to create enough pressure and find a way to escape from its restrictions. Such can be said with the magazine business. For instance: if you think people will only accept 60 pages of ads, you quietly try 61 — until suddenly, not six months later, your readers’ copy of Vogue weighs thirty-nine pounds and their postal carriers hate them. But when even the unconventional becomes the norm, where else can you go? In this piece in Folio by our old friend Dylan Stableford, it turns out that Vice magazine has found the solution: stick a glow-in-the-dark ad on the cover. Because, hey, your readers have to turn off the lights sometime, right? That’s when you get ’em. Here’s a bit:

“Maintaining the integrity of our cover — which is not usually for sale — while delivering a unique and rad brand message for BMW was an amazing challenge,” Shawn Phelan, director of sales and marketing at Vice’s Toronto office, told Strategy, a Canadian marketing magazine, last week.

That’s because e glow-in-the-dark ad is a something of a production department nightmare. According to Phelan, the magazine had to print its covers at one plant; ship them to another to add the glow-in-the-dark ink, a UV coat; then back to the original plant for binding.