Background: Recruitment to clinic trials is typically poor. Among barriers to recruitment may be the limited knowledge of trialists with respect to marketing techniques. Improvements in marketing could decrease recruitment time and shorten the time to access new interventions. We hypothesized that a marketing plan would improve recruitment to a lung cancer screening study. Methods: The Pan-Canadian Early Detection of Lung Cancer Trial recruited subjects from 8 centres to a screening study of low-dose CT scan and autofluorescence bronchoscopy. Recruitment processes were undertaken independently at each centre. One centre (M) used marketing expertise and a marketing plan, including surveying study candidates for motivators, resulting in specific newsprint advertisements. Screened trial candidates provided demographic and tobacco use data and indicated how they had heard about the study (bus, friend/family, MD, mail, newsprint, radio, TV, other). No site paid for radio or TV time. We used regression analyses to assess whether newsprint advertisements were more effective for recruitment at site M compared with all other sites. Results: From 2008 to 2010, 7059 candidates contacted all centres for eligibility screening, including 779 at centre M. Overall, 50.2% were female; median age was 59 yrs. Compared with other centres, candidates at centre M had less education (p < 0.001), a higher median 3-year lung cancer risk (2.3 vs 2.0%, p < 0.001), but were more likely to have learned of the study by newsprint (58.8 vs 53.3%, chi-squared p = 0.004), and were more likely to be recruited (44.0 vs 34.9%, p < 0.001). It was more likely that newsprint was the driver for screening contact among candidates with higher education level (OR 1.05/level), higher age (OR 1.03 / yr) and contact at site M (OR 1.31) (all < 0.001). Recruitment after eligibility screening was higher when newsprint was the driver for contact on univariable but not multivariable analysis. Conclusions: The effectiveness of newsprint advertising in motivating study contact may be improved by the formal use of marketing expertise. Newsprint advertising may improve the likelihood of recruitment after study screening, possibly through improved initial self-screening by the candidate. Clinical trial information: NCT00751660.