This week you might have heard already of Esquire's Augmented Reality issue. The video below explains the action. Basically the print magazine gets interactive: when you point the QR code to your webcam a world of additional multimedia content is unveiled.
There has been quite a lot of buzz around the initiative. In my opinion the idea is pretty cool, if not only because it got a lot of people talking about it and buying the magazine to discover it. I see it more as an advertising campaign rather than an enhanced editorial plan. I think the money invested in producing all the interactive content isn't something the Esquire can afford investing every month, and probably it won't even be worth it. Also, the aspect that really amazes me is the great job they've done building content with celebrities. This is the real added value of the initiative and possible the hardest thing to replicate
But it's definitely an initiative very good in generating word of mouth and curiosity in checking out the magazine. So the mechanism is simple: you get people interested in the publication, they buy it, they like the content (not just the AR part) and they will possibly be willing to buy the next issue as well if not to subscribe.
I think it's also interesting to read all the comments on Twitter of people evaluating the action. You get some obvious thoughts but also some good feedback on the hype as well as on the potentials of AR. For example I loved Nicholas' comment who said "what's the point of holding a magazine in front of your webcam when your "augmented reality" could fit on a CD?" (!!!)