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.
Posted by George Tannenbaum at 8:22 AM