"The bar in general needs to be raised in print creative," says George Janson, managing partner-director of print at Mediaedge:cia, New York. A spectacular pop-up or eight-page spread isn't even necessary, he says, adding, "A simple page unit done correctly can help move the needle on brand awareness."
Purveyors of spectaculars, however, say technology today is benefiting their work as much as it is seeding other media. "These magazine spectaculars have been around for many years," says Mike Maguire, CEO of Structural Graphics. "Now it's more data-driven and more targeted."
It is also, of course, more attention-getting. Structural Graphics recently created an ad unit to promote the new NBC show "Heist" in New York and Los Angeles subscribers' copies of Entertainment Weekly; the ad expanded into a "billboard" larger than the magazine itself. The company created 340,000 of them in 12 days, another feat Mr. Maguire attributes to technological improvements. "One of the things we're seeing and trying to react to more is speed," he says.
Americhip has created many of the stand-out units seen in the past year, including an ad for The WB's "Supernatural" that included a sound chip and blinking yellow lights. To Mr. Janson's point about simplicity, Americhip also produced a magazine ad for Pepsi-Cola Co.'s Aquafina Sparkling water that used clear bubble wrap to evoke carbonation.