When I was asked to review the product by Campaign, my initial thought was to re-title the review "cynic's view", especially having read Times Newspapers' managing director Clive Milner's original statement.
"The Month will extend our youthful reach base and provide advertisers with an exciting new vehicle to promote their product."
I felt I had heard this all before.
However, I reckon Milner and his team have cracked it, finding a way to build relevant and beneficial reading value within a well-worn promotional model (if you think the format is innovative, talk to Future Publishing which promotes its PC magazines like this all the time).
Quite simply, I believe The Month is a triumph, from the design of the CD-Rom packaging, to the content, which ranges from Pavarotti to Dido.
What is innovative is the move from a pure promotional tool for the publisher to the opportunity for advertisers to have a very real sales opportunity.
Most of us know that the major part of FMCG budgets goes on product sampling, because it works. To move this concept into the entertainment arena in such a format is an excellent idea. An example of this is, after having loaded the CD-Rom and listened to extracts from the new Dido album, you are given the opportunity to buy the album online in advance of its release. The same opportunity exists for the headline sponsor Renault, which offers immediate test-drive opportunities on the new Laguna.
Being a direct marketing professional, I welcome any new medium that offers an opportunity to associate my clients' products with an appropriate environment and to generate an immediate consumer action.
The Month also offers real added value to readers of The Sunday Times, so it's a win-win for readers and advertisers. That's the Holy Grail in newspapers, isn't it?
We will have to wait and see if Milner was correct regarding the positive effect on the title's readership among more youthful readers, but as a promotional tool The Month delivers.
Well done to the team at Renault for spotting an opportunity and getting in on the ground floor of something big. I just hope as much thought goes into capturing usable data as has gone into the design and production.
Publisher: Times Newspapers
Frequency: Once a month
Cost of advertising: Sponsors have paid up to £250,000
Advertisers include: Renault (main sponsor), BT, Xbox, Mattel, Sky