Magazines take page from film trailers
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If the promise of Jeremy Renner, Ashley Greene, fast cars and women in underwear wasn't enough to entice readers to pick up the August issue of Esquire magazine, perhaps a video trailer will.
As Mr. Renner, star of August's "The Bourne Legacy," appears to say at the end of the 41-second online video, "Welcome to Esquire."
The concept of traditional print media embracing a video Web component is by now an industry standard. But what made the recent Esquire short remarkable was its use as a teaser.
"Magazines in Europe have been utilizing movie theaters to show trailers about their magazine long before there was such a thing as the Internet," said Samir Husni, who holds a doctorate in journalism and established the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi.
"For years we've used print to amplify digital; it is about time that we have created a two-way road ... finally, a step in the right direction."
With single-copy newsstand sales of U.S. magazines down almost 10 percent (28.9 million copies sold) in the second half of 2011, little wonder publishers are trying to catch consumers' eyes.
Esquire wasn't the first U.S. magazine to create an online trailer, but it is the most prominent, easily found online at www.esquire.com, on the company's Facebook page and also on YouTube.
Earlier this year, the magazine put together two short online trailers to promote author Chris Jones' March issue piece, "Animals," an account of the horrific Zanesville, Ohio, incident last October involving exotic animal owner Terry Thompson, who released most of his animals and then committed suicide.
Neither of those incorporated video, but both were effective. The first, 46 seconds long, includes audio of a neighbor's 911 call to police ("There's a bear and a lion out?" says the incredulous dispatcher), plus audio from law enforcement officers.
The second trailer is a 20-second slide show with photos of the dangerous animals. These early trailers reportedly were the idea of deputy editor Peter Griffin.
This newest Esquire trailer is 46 frenetic seconds of audio, video, music, still photos and short bursts of teasers from the table of contents. It begins with the familiar green movie trailer band, stating, "The magazine advertised has been rated 'E' -- Some material maybe enlightening."
It also jokingly touts, "Brief sequences of outlandish behavior, respectful sexuality and pervasive beautiful language throughout."
Yes, it's all in there.
In the first 35 seconds, Mr. Renner kicks in the door of a warehouse, beautiful cars spin around, there are cartoons of Olympic sports, Ms. Greene stands in a garden in her underwear, "Vampire Diaries" actress Nina Dobrev lounges on a rumpled bed, and we also get a shot of a male model in a great-looking overcoat.
That's just part of the video. In the last 10 seconds, the names of more than 20 people and things featured in the August issue flash by, from Mr. Renner to 71-year-old Olympic equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu.
Set to "Triccs" by Royal Bangs, it's high-octane. But even nuttier are the trailers for SURFING magazine, which has the advantage of using cool video of, well, surfing.
Combining print graphics with video, its latest 31/2-minute Vimeo short has girls in bikinis, stern-looking women in lacy lingerie, model Nathalie Gironas in a $32 tee and panties -- do we detect a theme here? -- but also some great action on the waves.
Wyatt Blair's "Shoot in the Night" is the musical backdrop.
It should be no surprise that Esquire is pushing the creative envelope with the Renner video. This is a magazine that used flashing "E Ink" on a portion of its October 2008 covers. The current issue even has a QR code embedded on the front, promising a "sneak peek" of what's inside.
David Granger, Esquire editor-in-chief, told Adweek, "We had so much extra video for August, so we wanted to put it to good use." The one online was chosen from more than a dozen created.
Unlike trailers for movies and television shows, the August issue video hints at the contents instead of giving away the story. That, according to Mr. Husni, is a good thing.
"Creative marketing can be done without spoilers," he said. "In this day and age where everyone is bombarded with information, a little peek inside a new issue of a new magazine is more than enough.
"Think of it as an elevator sales pitch. Raise the curiosity and create a call to action."
First Published July 8, 2012 12:00 am