Getting Physical

An ad inviting prospects to interact with the publication in which it appears can really grab attention.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the February 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

HTML, Flash animation and other eye candy are great attention-getters for online ads, but there are still some awesome sensory tricks their inanimate, plain-paper counterparts can use to get readers involved.

Who can forget scratch 'n' sniff ads? Or their long-running first cousins, the perfume-strip ads? How about the ads that have Post-its stuck on them? Or the ads in which the headline is typed backward so that you have to hold it in front of a mirror to read it? Old school? Uncool? Perhaps. But on the other hand, I regularly run into double-page ads produced for ultra-cool companies that read with about as much connection and involvement as an annual report.

The ad shown here is not an involvement ad per se, but it sports a variation on the idea. It asks the rhetorical question of women with hot flashes: "Did you buy this magazine thinking it would make a good fan?" Though it's not asking the reader to get physical with the publication, it's making the mock presumption-with something of the same effect-that that's why she bought it.

The ad is for Revival Soy, a company that claims its soy-based products help extinguish hot flashes. I think the headline and subhead effectively get prospects riveted on the ad and the subject. I also like how the minimalism of the design makes the encased headline leap off the page. A further enhancement to this ad would be more explanation of why soy helps hot flashes. Most women in this target market are savvy about various symptom relievers (hormone replacement therapy, herbal remedies and so on), so it would help sell them to know specifically what Revival brings to the symptom-reliever table. The prospect can go to Revival's Web site ( for additional information in that regard.

So how can you use a "get physical with the publication" theme to market a product or service? Perhaps you could invite readers to roll their issue into a megaphone for an announcement to employees. Or show them how to fold the ad into an origami paper sculpture of the deluxe widget you're promoting. Or have them cut puzzle pieces out of the ad that, when assembled, reveal your new, improved gewgaw. You get the idea.

Huddle with your advertising brain trust, and ask this question: "What device can we use to get prospects to spend two minutes with our ad instead of two seconds?"

Jerry Fisher ( is a freelance advertising copywriter and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising.

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