Friday, November 18, 2016

On death. And print.

For a little short of two years now, mostly because it seems no one else wants to do it, I've written just about every print ad my agency has produced for the account I work on.

Print ads, I'll admit, can be excruciating little things, like those rare South American parasites that get under your skin and eat you alive.

First off is the democracy problem.

Because everybody has a keyboard in front of them from about the time they can toddle, everybody assumes they can write. 

That makes everyone a critic. 

That means it's not unusual, cancel that, it's all too usual to literally go through a round of revisions per word you write. So, if your copy has 65 words, it's uncannily certain that you go through 65 rounds of changes.

I think I stand on firm ground when I say that maybe not all of these changes are wise, or artful, or substantive, or even thoughtful.

But still, they persist.

I think of an old British seaman flogged for stealing an extra ration of grog. He passed out from pain after six or seven lashes. Still, they gave him the full dozen.

But as the changes persist, the writer must persist too. You have to fight through every one. If the suggested change makes things 2% worse, how you handle the suggestion must improve the ad by 2%.

That's all you can do.

Print as a medium--for some reason we call it a channel nowadays--doesn't get you a lot of respect. I'd guess that there are major marketers who never even do a print ad. So much of our "reading" world has shifted to digital. Besides, who has the time?

But still, I believe there is something powerful about something you can hold in your hands, examine and read. As transitory as print is, there's something indelible in it.

There is something in print, I believe, that is important to brands. 

Because good print is "the right length," neither too long nor too short, it forces a concentrated clarity of thought. It forces 'thinking through.'

I know print is a dead medium.

But we could use more of it.

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