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August 20, 2021

What new video magazine ads mean for the future of marketing

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

My roommate claims to be two things: 1) a red-blooded, full-grown man, and 2) a preeminent authority on Harry Potter.

Now, Harry Potter’ s great. My sisters love it. Kids love it. It’s a big time entertainment machine.

But show me another rational, adult male who lives and breathes Harry Potter, and I’ll show you two dozen women that worship Friday Night Smackdown  and would encourage their husbands to schedule a fantasy football draft on the week of their weddings.

Why do I bring this up? Because apparently in Harry Potter  (he called me a “muggle” for asking him this), there’s this virtual newspaper called the Daily Prophet, complete with moving images and video rolling on every page.

And CBS and Pepsi, it now seems, are down with the HP. The Financial Times reports next month’s Entertainment Weekly will feature a few groundbreaking, Potter-esque ads from the two corporations, ones that’ll appear on wafer-thin video screens built into the page.

According to the Times, the full-motion video ads are a pricey experiment, but two that could foreshadow the future of marketing.

The ads, which will only appear in Entertainment Weekly’s delivered in New York and L.A., reportedly cost CBS and Pepsi millions - - several dollars each, where a normal EW full-page ad would go for about 9 cents a copy.

Still, the technology is pretty cool (the video ad will start to play when the page is opened, like a music greeting card), and you could argue the buzz the concept’s getting now is enough return on the investment, as-is.

But given the outrageous price, the video ads seem to underscore the problems in a still-ravaged marketing industry that – aside from those Dos Equis commercials – couldn’t generate any buzz if it travelled back to the 60’s and hijacked Don Draper.

If you remember, a few months ago in this space we discussed the arrival of Wonka-style edible ads as a way to give newspaper marketing a shot in the arm.

Yet those, too, were pretty costly ventures. And what we’re seeing now is a fairly expansive dichotomy appearing in the ad world that’s threatening to oust the little guy.

Since only companies with major ad budgets can afford these new overhyped, buzz-built placings, it’s forcing mid-level businesses to go viral to fill the void left by traditional advertising.

And unless you get a knockout hit like the drum-playing gorilla (it was from Cadbury, but still), this unfortunately becomes a case of go-big-or-go-home for modestly-sized companies trying to make a name for their product.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...