Monday, September 17, 2007

What is print?

To most people running agencies, to most CMOs, to the heads of most media companies, the media world has always been composed of a trinity. That is, there is print, radio and television. Until recently each of those media has always had a specific role. Generally speaking, television was always the awareness media. Consideration and response was always given over to print. In fact, if you look at, say, the One Show Annual from 20 years ago, the big print winners were ads with copy--maybe even a couple hundred words of copy, like the ads that really built the BMW brand.

Then came the internet. To people who weren't watching, all of a sudden there was a new place to get information. A new consideration and response medium. So what happened was this: Print became posterized. Look at the Cannes winners over the last few years. There's hardly a word to be seen. So print quickly became a visual media. The only problem for print was that both TV and the internet have this thing Kevin Roberts of Saatchi calls Sisomo--sight, sound and motion. And--look at porn as one example--people would rather see moving pictures of moaning wimmen than still photos of the same.

What's more, print, except for newspaper ads, became slow. It took a long time to produce. In the ASAP-era, it lost its newsworthiness. Even in newspaper ads which should capitalize on the media's "dailiness," because of bureaucratic client organizations and slow-moving agencies, approvals are a long time coming and so relevance suffers.

So, what is the role of print when you can get cooler pictures and more words elsewhere? Print is tactile, you can hold it. Print can put a complete thought in one place--it won't disappear a frame or a pixel later. Likewise, print has the unique capability of presenting iconic words or images. The Absolut Vodka could not have worked anywhere but print. Finally, print, because of its bookish lineage, has an air of authority the internet and television don't.

These are my thoughts on something I've been worrying about. I would love yours.


tore's tour said...

Totally agree.
And what's more. It's still a powerful medium to build careers in.
Singapore wouldn't exist in the ad world if it wasn't for some interesting print. Print is the only thing they're god at. Very good though. I guess Neil French taught them.
Some of it long copy, most of it of course poster like.
Well crafted it commands attention. Even among judges in Cannes, D&AD and the The One Show. Guys who can do a decent print ad are highly valued in Singapore. But try to get a job in NY based on skills in print. HA! Perhaps in the mail department.
Even so, print exists. It's a rather big print market out there, with perhaps more magazines than ever and a few news papers still alive. But very few agencies pay it any attention. Judging form the quality of 99% of the prints ads we get sort of exposed to.

dawife said...

Print seems to be a purist's form of advertising. Fewer gizmos, no motion, and it may take more thought to create. Also, I think it appeals to one's intellect more than TV and internet. That is, assuming the public has much intellect these days, which may be a broad assumption.