Newsweek’s “Retro With Mojo” Issue Comes to iPad

By Steve Smith

How ‘iRonic’ is this? The now-famous rendering of this week’s Newsweek magazine in mid-60s style gets an ultra-contemporary twist by also being on the most modern of devices – the iPad. In most respects in print, the Mad Men collector’s edition of Newsweek looks and feels like a weekly straight from the age when transistor radios still seemed cutting edge and “portable” TVs still weighted 30 pounds. “Portability” back then just meant having a handle.

But Newsweek launched its special issue with a full complement of iPad extras this week. The editors explained the surface disconnect this way:

Newsweek circa 1965 and the iPad may seem worlds apart, but what they have in common outweighs their differences. Both eschew style over substance while wholeheartedly embracing substance with style. Marrying the 1965 version of Newsweek to the 2012 iPad’s technology, we created a design that respectfully tips its hat to the past without ever getting stuck there. Call it retro with mojo. Won’t you join us on the elevator.

In fact the issue begins with the filmed version of the issue cover in which the core cast of the Mad Men series are revealed by opening elevator doors. They walk out of the car as the full magazine cover fades in. 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. Likewise the Estee Lauder ad has video of the Mad Med ad shoot. New York Life takes an especially creative tack by including in its ad a retrospective of its print creative in the 60s and an interview with the company’s top marketing executive about changes in advertising. Paul Begala’s opinion piece on attack ads includes video of a sample. And all of the articles in the magazine have the requisite social media links. George Lois’s piece on ads includes a large gallery of iconic ad work and videos of him discussing topics like his making great magazine covers for Esquire.

The iPad edition also includes extra editorial on the centerpiece of this issue, the return of the Mad Men series. Behind the scenes pieces like “Capturing the 60s” outline how the look of the show is achieved. A map of the fictional ad agency’s offices offers zoomed views of the set details and its authenticity.

The Mad Med edition of Newsweek gives the magazine the opportunity to demonstrate to a wider audience the extras it puts into the weekly tablet edition. The basic interface is highly usable, with vertical scrolling through individual articles and lateral swipes across content elements. The magazine amplifies its editorial and at least for this issue was able to land a number of advertisers willing to go the extra mile to enhance their own retro ads with era-appropriate extras.