Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Biggest Newspaper Ad Ever?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Biggest Newspaper Ad Ever?

Article excerpt

Wall Street Journal Bags 32-pager, estimated at $2.8m

It is believed to be the biggest advertising spread in the history of newspapers, say officials at advertiser IBM, its agency Ogilvy & Mather, and The Wall Street Journal.

The 32-page blockbuster ad appeared as a run-of-press insert in the Dec. 13 issue of the Journal.

"I've been in the business for 30 years, and this is the biggest newspaper ad I've ever seen," said Steve Hayden, the Ogilvy & Mather executive who handles IBM's global account.

Like the rest of the campaign, the 32-page business-to-business ad is geared toward e-business owners and executives; it begins with an appeal to those who are "looking for a fast, simple, inexpensive way to get online and process transactions."

A succession of illustrated pages sport a number of testimonials to customer achievements, such as a page that features Victoria's Secret and declares, "IBM provided consulting, design, architecture, and coding to put the brand's stores online."

Recalling the first call he got from IBM on the ad, Hayden said, "I sort of dropped the phone." As president of an agency unit called Worldwide Brand Services, IBM, Hayden supervises a global staff of 1,050.

IBM, Ogilvy & Mather, and the Journal all declined to say what the ad cost. But the newspaper has never varied from its policy of refusing to sell off the rate card, according to Journal spokesman Richard Tofel.

The price for a full-page, black-and-white ad for an advertiser with the top quantity discount allowed by the rate card is $86,773.94. When multiplied by 32 pages, that would put the price at nearly $2.8 million.

The ad contributed to a nice holiday season at the Journal, which was so flush with ads on Dec. 13 that each copy weighed 1.84 pounds.

And the ad capped a two-year, multimedia effort to create a new IBM image. "The advertising campaign helped rebrand us from a hardware company to a solutions company with a focus on e-business," explained John Bukovinsky, an IBM spokesman.

With help from the campaign, IBM has concluded some 20,000 deals over the last two years to sell e-business products and services, generating annual revenues of approximately $20 billion.

Hayden said he was told by a top IBM executive that "all those other companies, our competitors, are now jumping on the e-business bandwagon we started, and we would like to reassert our leadership." When an ad of 30 or 35 pages was suggested as "a big end-of-the-year, end-of-the- millennium kind of event," Hayden recalled saying, "Oh, my gosh! …

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