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The Influencers

Is the Print Ad Still Relevant? This D&AD Juror Believes So

INFLUENCER: Geometry’s Creative Director Debbie Fagan judges the D&AD print awards 2018

Is the Print Ad Still Relevant? This D&AD Juror Believes So

D&AD Awards 2018. Truman Brewery. Two days. Eight Judges. Hundreds of the very best press ads from across the globe. 

It's obvious when a print ad is a brilliant print ad. Or is it? And how do judges from a cross-section of regions view the same work? And is cultural relevance transferable globally? 

We spent two days deliberating, debating and finally deciding what work took away which pencils. There was Wood and Graphite for some, but we were a pretty tough crowd with no yellows being awarded this year.

The iconic Yellow Pencil only gets awarded to work that has truly achieved creative excellence. Brilliant idea married with perfect craft. Many ads ticked many boxes but to uphold this standard we wanted to see something truly breakthrough. It proved to be elusive. 

Immersed in this sea of creativity, the ‘Female Rising’ trend is still very much at the heart of the conversation with work like Womanity’s campaign, 'Don’t Blame The Clothes', 'Open Your Eyes' from Grey Germany and AMVBBDO’s 'Blood Normal' rallying loudly. Correction. THIS IS NOT a trend but a powerful force, a groundswell that is here to change the narrative for good. 

Donald Trump popped up time and again in Der Spiegel Magazine’s 'Front Cover Series' and he showed up in Kein & Aber’s 'Trumps Next Move' – promoting a book about choice architecture. The Economist stepped up too with O&M’s 'Trump Donald' ad… and there’s more… so much more, but I’ve added enough Trumpeting here of my own. (Did I just mention Donald Trump in the same breath as ‘Female Rising’?).

It did however make me wonder: “What is the future of press advertising?”

Since the dawn of the internet, naysayers have heralded the death of the print ad. Yes, our source of news and information has primarily moved online with consumers of a certain age having a strong preference for digital content. 

As with everything there are cycles and there’s a powerful return to the authentic. Consumers are ad-blocking and therefore short-circuiting digital ads, compounded with the fact that there is a general ‘snow-blindness’ to digital advertising methods. And this, I believe, opens up print opportunities once again. 

So yes, print will need to adapt. Advances in technology like AR and image recognition are exciting and will enable print ads to be the connective tissue to digital brand experiences. Connecting the physical and digital worlds, thereby powerfully expanding storytelling potential for trailblazing brands. There certainly are exciting opportunities to unlock in AR which will give print ads a place in seamless omni-channel brand experiences, way beyond their current limitations. 

Print can also offer a more intimate medium for brands to connect with their chosen audiences, on their terms. Consumers at the luxury end of the spectrum also still value more tactile media. Specifically referencing glossy magazines here - still with their enduring cachet standing the test of time. 

In the same way that online brands like Google and Facebook have started to do TV advertising, there’s a possibility that other offline entities, including influencers will start to engage their digital audience with print media.

Print media is in a state of evolution as it finds new ways to reengage consumers. But the opportunities are there winking. 

Genre: Print