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Royal Bank of Canada sponsors National Geographic issue for iPad

April 15, 2010

The RBCs full-page interactive iPad ad

The RBC's full-page interactive iPad ad

Financial services giant Royal Bank of Canada is running an ad campaign across National Geographic within Zinio’s application for Apple’s iPad.

The RBC is running within National Geographic’s interactive Water issue on Zinio’s iPad application include full-age interactive ad units promoting the bank’s Blue Water Project, a ten-year commitment to help foster a culture of water stewardship worldwide.

“We’ve been in discussions with National Geographic for three years now trying to find the right type of partnership with them,” said Melissa Steadman, senior manager of international brand marketing at the RBC, Toronto.

“RBC is well-known in Canada, but we’re pretty new to the U.S. audience, and we thought that by building a relationship with an organization like National Geographic could help us with brand-building exercises,” she said.

“We saw the digital version of the magazine as a fantastic way to extend the partnership and reach people we wanted to be speaking to, engaging with National Geographic readers on new platforms and getting the word out that we’re a financial institution doing great things and supporting a very good cause.”

Since 2007, RBC has committed millions of dollars in grants to organizations all over the world that are dedicated to helping protect and conserve watersheds and ensure access to fresh drinking water.

The National Geographic Society was one of the 2009 RBC Blue Water Project grant recipients. The grant of $200,000 will fund the research and conservation work of a National Geographic Freshwater Fellow for two years.

“We know their strong brand is a great fit for RBC beyond the grant, and we felt it was important to supplement that grant with sponsorship and marketing dollars to get our story to a broader audience, not only talk about the great things we’re doing in the water space but to build our brand in the U.S.,” Ms. Steadman said.

Here is a screen grab of the RBC ad:

Reaching out to iPad users
RBC created a water-dedicated cobranded Web portal with National Geographic and ran four ad insertions in the magazine’s April Water issue, an ad campaign that extended onto the iPad.

The Web site features online quizzes and Web polls, a National Geographic game called Eco Rivers Rescue and a page with information about cleaning up the rivers of North America and preserving fresh-water resources.

The ads that appear both online, on television and within the iPad edition of the magazine carry the message that a financial institution alone cannot solve the worldwide water crisis.

“We communicate through TV and online, as well as mobile and social media sites such as YouTube, telling the Blue Water story of the great work of our grant recipients,” Ms. Steadman said.

National Geographic partners with Zinio
In combination with the launch of Zinio Reader 4 at the end of March, National Geographic celebrated World Water Day with a free download offer of its interactive April 2010 “Water” issue.

Zinio’s newest digital reading application enables online or offline reading across the company’s global offering of more than 2,000 consumer magazines.

National Geographic magazine’s April 2010 issue was the first title to be showcased on the Reader 4 platform. “Water: Our Thirsty World” highlights the challenges facing one of the world’s most essential natural resources.

Since the National Geographic Society considers the concerns highlighted in the single-topic issue so important, it offered it free of charge through April 2 at and via Zinio’s application.

This dynamic edition of National Geographic magazine presents complete content from the print edition, plus extra photo galleries, rollover graphics that animate features such as maps and timelines, video profiles of photographers who contributed to the issue and other interactive features.

“Our strategy is to reach people around the world and speak to our readers wherever they are,” said Paul Levine, executive vice president of interactive platforms group and corporate senior vice president of corporate strategy and development at National Geographic, Washington, DC. “Mobile includes all types of devices, all types of operating systems, and we’re platform agnostic.

“We have a big focus on smartphones that allow us to create stories and create customer interactions in a very rich way,” he said. “Zinio is the leading multiplatform magazine publisher in the world, and they are able to take National Geographic in English and in many local languages and distribute the magazine digitally.”

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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