The Hindustan Times is celebrating print as a medium. Amidst various conversations on what lies ahead for this medium in the wake of the changing media landscape, HT reiterates that there is a magic unique only to print. The company’s CEO Rajiv Verma spoke about this in an evening when HT unveiled a coffee table book, ‘The Magic of Print’, on September 14, 2012.
The book delves on how to create great print advertising, featuring contributions from Indian advertising experts, including HT’s agency Lowe Lintas Chairman and Chief Creative Officer R Balki. The book also showcases examples of great creative work in print from around the world.
Commenting on the launch, Rajiv Verma said, “At a time when advertising is becoming increasingly complex, with buzzwords like interactive marketing, virals and 360 degree gaining traction, ‘The Magic of Print’ comes as a proof undeniable of the incredible power of good old print advertising. In collecting some of the best in class print advertising, which has graced the pages of newspapers over the past decades, we hope to demonstrate the continuing vivacity and relevance of this medium.”
The content has been put together by Rajan Bhalla, Head - Corporate Marketing & Magazines, HT Media, and John Thangaraj, Vice President, Planning at Lowe Lintas.
Putting the content of the book in context, HT also gathered industry leaders to deliberate further on print as a medium and the attributes unique to print.
What works for print?
“There are three attributes to print – it has been the best reach medium, it brings editorial credibility like no other medium and intelligent work on print can generate a great response,” said Vikram Sakhuja, CEO, GroupM South Asia and CEO-designate, Maxus Worldwide.
Adding to this, Josy Paul, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India observed, “The impact of print is like Usain Bolt.”
Creative doyen Alyque Padamsee drew an interesting analogy to voice his views on the medium. He said, “TV is like junk food and print is a satisfied meal that also feeds the internet. Print relies on emotion and required brainpower too. You may not see FMCG much in print but it has great advantages for categories such as consumer durables as you can give information and it is a medium that remains with you.”
Drawing a broader picture, Lodestar UM’s CEO Shashi Sinha reminded of the changing dynamics of the television industry, where digitisation and an expected cap on advertising in TV could lead to increased ad rates. When that would happen, TV would not really be the first medium of recall on the subject of cost efficiency. Print, seen as a more expensive medium at the moment, will become comparable in such a scenario.
Print should respond to today’s needs
While a majority of industry leaders are confident of the future of print, in its present avatar, in a market like India, they also caution that there are changes in the consumer demand today that print needs to address. Citing the example of radio, Padamsee said, “Radio would have died if they continued the way they were, which was ‘speaking’, not radio. But they moved to understand and play with music. Similarly, print needs to reinvent itself as soon as possible. Make your medium something that people desire. When The Telegraph coined the word ‘Unputdownnable’, that is what they did.”
The reinvention of print may also transition it into a different avatar. And most bets are on a more customised and more specialist than a general mass medium. Sakhuja said, “Five years from now, print may not have the mass reach it has, in a similar sense as it does today. I believe it would be catering to pockets but it would be very powerful in each of those pockets, making it a well segmented game.”
As a medium, print is perceived very “believable” and from an advertising point of view, as Padamsee puts it, print can freeze a moment. Paul elaborated on this and said, “We also need to realise that advertising in print is usually not operating in an individual capacity. There are many ideas that are integrated in nature. How the idea can flow and how print can lift that idea is one area where one must focus and maximise the collective impact. It is a constantly evolving process.”
While the conversations on the efficiency of print medium could go on, its magic is there for all to see. As the industry leaders pointed out, print has over 500 or more years of equity. “Its ink runs in your blood and doesn’t just flow off this easily,” summed up Paul.