IT RAN: The first magazine composed entirely of ads

While it sometimes feels like we’re inundated with ads all day, everyday (rumour has it we see 5,000 brand messages daily), reading a magazine that only consists of ads may seem like overkill. But when you find out it’s a place for creatives and agencies to submit work they never imagined running, you take a peek – plus it’s all for a good cause.

Hailing from Canada, advertising agency, lg2 worked with the National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS) to create the IT RAN publication. There is no content, no stories and no shoots. Instead, it contains campaigns that couldn’t otherwise get made, because they were “too smart, too crass, too political, or just too damn sexy,” according to the publisher.

Costing $500 to place a full-page ad, the magazine assures each submission will run, with 100% of the proceeds going towards helping advertising professionals who are suffering from mental health issues or living with critical illness. We chatted to the creative directors behind the project, Chris Hirsch and Nellie Kim of lg2 agency, to discuss the magazine and wider marketing trends for the year to come.

What was the catalyst behind the IT Ran magazine?

Canadian advertising and communications agency, lg2 was looking for a way to help support and raise funds for NABS (an organization that exists solely to support people in the marketing and communications industry.) The idea for IT Ran came from the “under-the-breath” muttering that often occurs at award shows, when people question whether an awarded piece of work actually “ran”. IT Ran is a tongue-in-cheek campaign meant to poke a little fun at the industry, while giving creative folks complete creative freedom to flex their muscles.

Talk us through some of your favourite ads that ran in the magazine?

White Men cologne: Talks to a very topical issue in the ad industry these days, ie. The lack of diversity in the higher ranks of advertising agencies. 

#LeftiesArePeopleToo: There’s a trend of campaigns that are created for made-up hashtags with no actual client attached in order to be eligible to submit them to awards shows. This ad simply calls out that fact. There’s also a little surprise if you actually visit the URL


Where was the magazine distributed or sold?

IT RAN was distributed (for free) to agencies all across Canada. However, many requests poured into NABS’ social channels and physical copies were sent out as far as Hawaii and Pakistan. The subject matter of IT RAN seems to have been a universal insight. 

How have you seen marketing and advertising change over this past year?

The past year showed that brands had ‘purpose’ in mind. We saw more brands with strategies of social good/change in their communications. 

What big ad trends are you predicting for 2017?

Well see a continuation of more cause-related marketing by brands.

Can you talk a little bit about a campaign you thought really pushed the change agenda?

Burger King published an open letter to McDonald’s in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune proposing a banding together of the two chains to create the ‘McWhopper‘. A combined burger to signify ‘burger peace’ as a truce in relation to the United Nations Peace Day.

Like this article? Follow ig2 on Twitter here. 

And follow Sarah for marketing news and updates here.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.