The Star’s explanation of the spread was a “seriously smart” media campaign. The design was created by creative media and online marketing agency Mediology SA to launch its client, Japan Tobacco International (JTI)’s independent research. TJI has been looking into the inefficacy of unbranded, plain cigarette packaging.

Michael Pearce, deputy media director at Mediology, says that, by replacing The Star’s red front page with white and black unprinted wrap, the campaign was able to display the disempowering impact of censorship.

"The campaign was especially powerful in its communication through credibility association with newspapers, as this has not been done before," he adds.

"We wanted our media execution to be highly effective in directing The Star’s readers to JTI’s consumer research findings about the South African government’s proposed Tobacco Bill," says Pearce.

"[The bill] aims to introduce plain packaging for all cigarette boxes to discourage smoking, despite international evidence to the contrary," he adds.  

"These findings were published as a four-page spread wrap. Our client wanted to ensure that readers are empowered with the facts so that they could critically analyse the real socio-economic implications of such far-reaching legislation," Pearce says.

"This includes [the] loss of tax revenue as a result of increased illicit cigarette trading, and whether this offered the best course of action to change smoking behaviour, [should be known]," adds Pearce.

According to Pearce, The Star was chosen for the campaign, as newspapers are still considered the most trusted information source. Such a platform would inherently underpin the credibility of the research.

"As a daily, The Star also offers a good spread of readers with a good duplication across multiple national titles. People who read these other titles also read The Star, thus providing us with an excellent and highly cost-effective platform to build exposure into many of our key segments," says Pearce.

"Focusing on Gauteng gave us the biggest impact for this type of execution, as other regions are supported with tactical strips and digital. But, budgetary constraints allowed us to only do a single wrap execution," he adds.

"Using the medium to tell the story, so that it becomes a part of the creative execution, allows the message to become optimally relevant and impactful, [which is something that] is at the heart of Mediology’s strategic approach," says Pearce.

"In this case, the client wanted to get maximum exposure for their content without a budget for four-page inserts in multiple publications. We [therefore] needed to come up with an execution that would be unique enough to stand out and create greater awareness and hype than a few standard inserts would achieve," Pearce adds.

"Thankfully, the client was equally enthralled with the Mediology vision and idea and went as far as supporting us by getting global headquarter to sign off on the concept," he concludes.

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