Why the World’s Most Powerful Ad Man is a Print Fan

oreoeclipsehashtagcoverAs the pendulum continues its swing back toward print, a leading UK ad exec calls printed media “more powerful than people give them credit for.”

What a difference two years makes. In 2013, WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell cautioned that his clients were “spending too much on print and not enough on online and mobile,” according to an article in Print Power.

Two years later, speaking to an international audience at the Cannes Advertising Festival in 2015, he admitted he’s had a “change of heart.”

He explained, the article notes, “I think actually we are starting to see with traditional media, particularly newspapers, a bit of a pendulum swinging back because the market will realise they are more powerful than people give them credit for.”

His comments, not surprisingly, caused much discussion in the industry and reinforced the idea that the pendulum is indeed swinging back to print. Apparently when Sir Sorrell speaks, people do listen. One year later, Print Power decided to follow up on this story and asked three top industry execs to share their views.

“There’s been a lot of talk in our industry about how new media has transformed everything, but print still represents the toughest creative challenge in the business,” said Saatchi and Saatchi’s Pablo Del Campo, who’s talked previously about the challenge and value of getting print right. “If you can do great work in print you can do great work in any other media. That’s because print – the oldest form of advertising – is a creative exercise in simplicity and distillation. You have one page, one frame, one shot to tell a story. Print engages a sole sensory dimension so your insight has to be sharper, your creative idea has to work harder. Originality, simplicity and surprise need to combine in print to create a singular emotional moment. What a challenge! What a puzzle! What an opportunity!”

Meanwhile, Shiona McDoughall of Rapp notes that print is “often at the heart of the story” a brand tells. “Engagement with any communication is driven by the magic of the creative craft. Print media is where that craft has been honed, iterated and developed for 50 years,” she continues.

When this creative magic is harnessed, the results can be spectacular, as witnessed by the recent Oreo ads in the Sun Newspaper’s coverage of the last solar eclipse over Britain.

“This initiative dovetailed with outdoor and social media activity that tracked progress of the eclipse. In effect, the activity allowed the brand to become a ‘sponsor’ of this celestial event and delivered a sales spike of 59% making March 2015 Oreo’s highest-ever UK sales month,” said Matt Stockbridge of Mondelex International. “Internally we were very happy with the results,” he continued.

With those kinds of results from print – and the disruption of the digital ad industry – it’s no surprise that the move back toward print continues.