Paper Magazine’s chief creative officer Drew Elliott – otherwise known as one of the brains behind that cover shot of Kim Kardashian, which set out to #BreakTheInternet (only, of course, ‘you can’t break the internet’, laughed Elliott) – captivated the FashTech audience with his presentation on the magazine’s reinvention and the story behind that controversial shoot.
Elliott said the magazine’s strategy was focused on turning Paper into more of a digital product, by “taking a creative idea and investing nothing”, while simultaneously throwing “muscle behind it”.
We found our solution, Elliott told the audience. “How about we use the printed magazine to create a digital sensation? And that’s how #BreakTheInternet came about.” The magazine booked Kim Kardashian and photographer Jean-Paul Goude for its winter issue. “We built the story around it, and worked with all kinds of other people to make it viral in nature. Put all together we knew this image…this cover and then this famous butt would create a huge sensation. We knew at once this shoot might break the internet.” The company hatched a well-thought out PR and event plan to help cause more of a commotion.
The project, which was handled by just five people within the Paper team, led to a staggering 50 million users visiting its website. “Social media went crazy, people were tagging Paper [in mock-ups of KK pouring champagne into a glass placed on her bottom]. We did create attention inside social media. People were asking whether or not it broke the internet. But of course you can’t break the internet.”
Now, thanks to those images, Paper’s traffic is ten times greater than it was prior to the shoot. Asked whether or not the title will run another #BreakTheInternet cover again, Elliott responded: “We do own that term. We might do it again. In talking to celebrities about whether that’s something they want to do, they’re apprehensive because it was such a big splash; the bar is set high for that one.”
“When it comes to ‘break the internet’, I have ideas that can do that but it has to be the perfect storm.”
Elliott also spoke of how the magazine has different distribution methods for its content. “Sometimes things don’t need to be in the magazine…[we ask] maybe that’s more for Twitter? It’s about looking at the opportunities and asking what is our distribution? Where is the best place to put this out? I think it starts with a big idea then think about how to distribute it and learn from it.”