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From “Mad Men” to Ralph Lauren: 5 innovative tablet ads

One of the most common questions I get once people find out I write about tablets and publishing is “have you seen any cool tablet ads lately”? In no particular order, here are some innovative tablet ads I’ve come across:

1. Windows Azure ad in Wired: Windows Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, is designed to appeal to developers, coders and computer geeks of all kinds. And that’s what makes this tablet ad so brilliant. Featured in an issue of Wired, the ad lets readers “mess” with the ad’s HTML5 code. Readers could change the background image, transform the ad into a new color and manipulate the ad’s font. You can take a look at the below video to get a better sense of how the ad took full advantage of the tablet’s capabilities: 


2. Ralph Lauren ad in the New York Times (with Medialets): During this summer’s Olympic games, anyone could access much of the New York Times iPad app for free. Why? Because Ralph Lauren sponsored the publication’s app, taking over the app with unique advertising. The ads featured over the two-week period went far beyond the traditional static ad. Readers could watch videos showcasing the clothing giant’s fall line, peruse feature stories on the Olympic athletes and shop for Ralph Lauren goods without leaving the app. This ad campaign may not have all the bells and whistles associated with other tablet ads, but it’s an interesting example of the possibilities of the partnership model.


3. The Lexus ad in Sports Illustrated: The Mashable article where I first learned about this ad posed the question “Is this the world’s most interactive print ad?” Yes and no. This Lexus print ad becomes interactive once it’s combined with an iPad. Simply place the iPad behind the print ad, press play and the print ad appears to come to life. The ad seems designed primarily to generate buzz because how many people will go through the effort of pulling out their iPad while reading a print version of a magazine. Either way, it’s a neat trick. 

4. The “Mad Men” ads in Newsweek: Newsweek’s popular Mad Men issue featured a retro 1960s look that didn’t just apply to the articles. The ads also had the feel of print campaigns Don Draper himself would have worked on. As Steve Smith wrote in MinOnline, “Interestingly, the retro ads, which are also part of the Newsweek project, have touches of ultra-mod interactivity in the iPad edition. The vintage-looking British Airways print ad comes to life with a full video that includes an homage to early aviators”. These ads managed to successfully combine nostalgia with 21st-century technology. 
5. Autodesk ad in Editions: For Autodesk, a company specializing in 3D design software, the iPad is a particularly appealing device. In an ad in Editions by AOL, Autodesk showcased some of its 3D technology. Readers could scroll through a 3D model of the Tianjin Port building in China. By moving the iPad or pinching the screen, readers could explore and manipulate the 3D model. The tactile nature of this ad is what makes it so compelling. Many iPad advertisements focus on video, but often neglect the sense of touch.