Monday, April 28, 2008

A newspaper closes.

One of the oxymoronicies of the advertising industry is our obsession with print now that print has virtually no role left.

Before TV, print was the glamor medium. Beautiful artwork, lustrous language. Then during TV but before the internet, print was a complement--a rational reasoned argument to TV's image-making power. Now in the internet age, that role--and others--is filled by websites, web content, banner ads and more.

All that to say, in post-literate America, print and newspapers (which were invented to carry print ads) are dying. According to the NYTimes, another paper-paper, another grey lady, bit the dust yesterday, though it will continue to publish online.

None of this, however, changes much how agencies view print or clients buy print. We still walk into pitches with eight-page manifestos that never run and spreads that never see the light of day. We still spend hours and hours struggling over headlines and body-copy few people read. And we've yet, as an industry, tried to formulate a new role for print.

I believe that the era of visual-punny print is dead and has been dead for years, but no one has told art-directors, award shows or clients. There is still room for well-reasoned and concise reasoning. Clearly stated. Beautifully laid out. There is still room for Lois-like print power (of the sort I wrote about in yesterday's post.) There is still room for a Marty Puris-like ode like this: "The man who controls corporations ought to be able to control his own car." Internet advertising, which does not place a limit on the amount of words you can use--keep writing, there's always more you can say--or a premium on visual cleverness (why bother, you can fall back on SISOMO, SIghtSOundMOtion.) In other words, the flaccidness of internet creative has also allowed traditional print to get worse. We don't need copy points--the web will handle that. So let's just be goofy.

There is still room for print like that, I think. But no one does it anymore. The glib, facile and simplistic (which is different than simple) is easier. See above. One is good. One sucks. One built a brand, an ethos, a category. One built parity and me-too.


Unknown said...

"the end" is not just bland and "me to", it's plain stupid. So BMW will never again develop another car?
What about next years new and improved?
Well, i guess they trust we'll have forgotten this message by then.
Or maybe there won;t be a next year? Perhaps the end is nigh for the entire world.
It's a prophecy.
The level we've sunk to in print is so low it's below an average ameba's intelligent level. And I'm sure it's taken quite a few creative directors, art directors, copy writers, top lens people, hordes of client wranglers and the committee on the client side itself to reach this breath-taking altitude.

george tannenbaum said...

The car in "The End" ad isn't even the top of the BMW line. And the "before" ad wasn't even a particularly good BMW ad, but so far superior to the crap BMW's done since they left Ammirati for first Fallon and then GSDM.