Chris Sojka, founder of the full-service Brooklyn-based ad agency Madwell, has something to say to the print deniers out there.
“Print is here to stay,” Sojka asserts in a recent article in AdWeek.
What makes him so sure? Sojka looks to the recent history of another tangible medium – vinyl records – to understand the factor of human choice in all of this.
“Records were supposed to die at least three deaths: at the hands of the 8-track, the cassette tape and the looming CD,” he writes. “By the rise of MP3s, they should’ve been as easy to find as an 1866 phonograph. Instead, for at least one week in 2016, they outsold digital downloads in the U.K. In 2017, those sales reached a 25-year high.”
In the U.S., vinyl record sales have gone up for 12 straight years. And in case you missed this huge news last summer, Sony committed to producing vinyl again – nearly 30 years after stopping their presses.
Sojka believes that humans crave what’s real, and both vinyl and print are prime examples of this.
“In a world of pop-ups, it has a reassuring warmth, artfulness and simplicity that spans generations—from before everything was changing faster and faster,” he writes.
“At the same time, it’s truly statement-making and becoming increasingly so. A smart, striking print ad can reinforce your value in a way a banner ad never will. Banner ads remind us of scam artists—the price paid for content we enjoy. One accidental click can make you feel betrayed by your own thumbs. Print, on the other hand, is an elite club.”
He’s right on both accounts:
- Humans are designed to value what’s real and tangible; research proves that we value physical over digital even when the content is the same; and
- Physical media offers a trust bump that’s sorely missing digital, giving brands an edge when they advertise there.
Being a member of this elite print club “says something about your brand: that is has substance, style, swagger and resources,” he continues.
This is not simply nostalgia. The millennial and especially Gen Z generations came of age in the digital era.
“None have any reason to grasp at the past, yet they continuously find refuge in what’s classic,” he notes. “Perhaps there’s something about relentless change that drives all of us to find comfort in tradition. And as remarkable as this is to advertisers, our consumers live comfortably with competing ideals: love the new, love the old. It’s how you end up with wireless headphones, vintage Nikes and a copy of Prince’s commemorative Rolling Stone in your carry on.”
Too many still believe they can rely on digital alone to build a solid and growing brand. Maybe this was true 20 years ago, when digital was all cool and “having a website” was looked at as something of an anomaly. But in the real world, here and now, digitally-native brands are launching print content to meet audience demand.
In this age of the temporary, print – like vinyl – has a lasting quality that transcends the news feed. And we need more of that in our lives.