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Print innovations: Packing a punch on a page – from sound to vibrations, aroma…

Over the years, advertisers and agencies have leveraged the print medium to deliver interesting experiences to customers. But have they been able to exploit the medium to the fullest? A look at the opportunities presented by print medium vis-à-vis other media

Akansha Srivastava | Mumbai | December 9, 2014

print-innovation Click on the image to enlarge.

Print advertisements inform, explain, engage and, on some occasions, enthral readers. Brands have the chance of reaching the consumer first thing in the morning and retaining their share of mind throughout the day.

According to data provided by TMC, an average Indian is exposed to close to 1,300 possible touch points across TV, Print, Radio, Internet, Mobile and OOH, in a day. There are 94,000+ publications in India, among which 336 enjoy active readership. An average Indian consumes at least 170 minutes of media a day. TV is estimated to have carried one billion seconds of advertising in 2014, whereas Print is estimated to have carried 288 million cubic centimetres of advertising.

Print is a preferred medium of advertising for categories like Luxury, Auto, Real Estate, Retail, Services and Durables. For SMEs it serves as an effective, low-cost entry point, with enabling localisation, compared to TV ads. Dailies dominate the print innovation business as the key spending categories invest as much as 95% of their print monies here. Nevertheless, print ad innovations in magazines are critical for Fashion and FMCG brands, during launches and also for brand building.

Talking, vibrating, aromatic…

Print innovations typically involve cover-on-cover, folds, inserts, flaps, jackets, super jackets, and masthead innovation. There have been a few clutter-breaking innovations which have managed to grab attention. One such innovation that is widely recalled is the Hyundai Silver ad for Sonata. The cover jackets which were once considered innovations are now overused. While the Volkswagen ‘Talking Newspaper’ ad was more universally loved, the ‘Feel the shiver of excitement’ using a vibrator had its set of detractors and supporters. In the  vibrator case, Polo and Vento still got publicity, Twitter buzz, and the company claimed to have seen a 200 per cent jump in dealer enquiries on day one. Another innovation was the 3D print ad for Kajaria Ceramics, created by Crayons. Along with the ad came 3D glasses to view the brand's three-dimensional series of tiles.

Baby products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson took a leap into the brave world of ‘smellvertisement’ with a full-page ad in the newspaper that was liberally scented with the company’s famous baby powder. Bru, HUL’s coffee brand, and Hide & Seek have also taken the ‘smellvertisement’ route.

There are several creative examples of print innovations implemented internationally. Last year, a Nivea print ad in Brazil included a wafer-thin solar panel and phone plug to promote the Nivea Sun line of skincare products, which, in turn, created an ad that could charge your phones. In Sri Lanka, a mosquito repelling newspaper was launched by mixing mosquito repellent with the ink used for printing, by Leo Burnett. And recently, Leo Burnett India created the HE deodorant smell ad.

But just how effective are print innovations? And what’s the thin line between an innovation and intrusion? Bestmediainfo.com asks industry veterans for their views.

Creative Call

RajDeepak Das RajDeepak Das

Rajdeepak Das, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett and the creator of HE Deodorant print ad (smellvertisement), is of the opinion that print innovations need to take a leap. He says, “With digitisation in place, innovation in print needs to reach a different level. It has to be a level forward. We need to add smell, touch or sound attributes to make an ad appealing.”

Vasudha Narayanan, Executive Creative Director, Lowe Lintas (responsible for the Johnson & Johnson print ad), says, “Print innovation is probably the only mass media innovation in which you get 100 per cent share of mind of the reader. For daily readers, morning tea with the newspaper is a ritual. And, if there is something not usual about it, there is no way you will not notice.” However, she is quick to add that print innovation is not the answer to every marketing problem for every brand. In some cases investing in some other media can give a better return. “Even for brands with very deep pockets, it is a big challenge to run a national level print innovation. When smartly and efficiently used, print innovation can add a great value to your brand,” she adds.

Anup Chitnis, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy and Mather, believes that there is a need to shake up print advertising because people tend to ignore and overlook print ads. “If there is a new ad in the newspaper, people are a little conscious about going through the body copy and finding more about it. For Bru, we needed to ensure that the ad is noticed. We printed the ad with coffee-smelling ink. The smell triggered people’s senses, compelling them to look at the ad closely. Our idea was to ensure that the next time the reader goes to the market, he will want to buy Bru,” he explains.

What makes print advertising tricky and innovations more sensible is the fact that if a consumer misses an ad in the paper on a day, the brand will have to spend the same amount of money to be noticed the next time.

Planners’ Perspectives

Anita Nayyar Anita Nayyar

Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group, India & South Asia, explains, “Innovations are of various types each hitting individual minds differently with varied recall. Driving this recall is what makes the innovation or regular ad important. The one-off, clutter-breaking, hard-to-replicate ads, like the product experience ads activating the senses, are tough to forget.”

Once done, innovations tend to be overused and reach a saturation point. “Innovation is being innovative to forge meaningful connections to touch the minds and hearts of potential customers for recall. It could be by way of copy, creative, cut-out, insert, or anything the mind can invent,” Nayyar advises.

Sudha Natrajan Sudha Natrajan

For certain categories, print works way better than any other medium. Sudha Natrajan, Founder, TMC, gives her take: “Print innovation is critical for male-targeted categories such as auto, mobile handsets, consumer electronics, real estate, e-commerce, telecom services and financial services. These categories are traditionally very heavy on print and require innovation and large-format advertising to increase visibility and action, especially during launches, promos and festive offers.”

“Brands which have an appetite for innovation in terms of higher investment than regular print advertising choose innovation. Apart from this, brands like Volkswagen which have their brand proposition centred on product innovation extend that to media innovation,” she adds.

However, planners advise brands and agencies to exercise caution when it comes to treading the fine line between innovation and intrusion. “An innovation should be a natural progression of the creative idea and not a force fit. We should not look at innovations just for the sake of buzz or awards. Publications must take extra care in ensuring that the innovations do not disrupt the reader’s experience with the publication,” Natrajan cautions.

Print Power

The Johnson & Johnson ad released in January this year, created quite a buzz on social media. According to the tweets it garnered, people hugged their newspapers, got nostalgic, and thanked the brand for all the memories the baby-powder-smelling paper brought back. “Can you think of any other media that can evoke such feelings? A print ad can provide touch and feel; it has an advantage over other media,” Narayanan of Lowe Lintas asserts.

Harish Bijoor Harish Bijoor

Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., believes that print innovation conveys the ‘immediacy factor’ in the buying decision of a consumer. “Print media acts in tandem with television. Television is used as a medium to convey a message and it creates an aura, whereas print largely creates immediacy. One can clearly see the line blurring and see print having immense potential to emerge as the front of quick-sale market,” he observes.

Marketers, Bijoor says, need to understand the importance of the robust vernacular print media. “Print innovation needs to be developed keeping in mind the small town needs. The relevance of a well-innovated print ad exists mostly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Now, it is the time for the most creative people to look at print as well,” he added.

Lloyd Mathias Lloyd Mathias

According to Lloyd Mathias, Marketing Head, Hewlett-Packard India, a print ad reinforces a brand’s credentials. “It is not about which brand does print innovation, but about smart marketing; how a brand becomes visible and important for a consumer. There are quite a lot of examples where smart marketers have used print as an effective medium to set their brands’ image,” he observes.

The Fine Print

Going forward, Mathias believes, the scope of print innovation will increase. “In terms of television and digital revenue generation, it will be lesser, but there is a lot of scope. People from print media and creative agencies will create increase the avenues to advertise in print. Print ads are typically very expensive because the life of a print ad is of one day, compared to television. But, a smart marketer will always deploy innovation in print while increasing the spent on innovation,” he says.

Natrajan is of the opinion that innovations can become a big revenue spinner for publications provided the pricing is more realistic and advertiser-friendly. Metrics to measure ROI on innovations is a key ingredient to the success of this form of advertising.

Mathias concurs, “The onus of print innovation lies with the clients and the people who manage the print property. To rekindle the consumer interest in print, one needs to raise the bar of innovation.”

Considering print’s physical limitations, low interactivity and excessive costs, TV and digital are preferred mediums. “Innovation cost hikes up the rate of an already expensive medium; targeted or mass, it needs a deep- pocket advertiser. TV is the most cost effective mass reach medium. Digital is at its sunrise and assumed to be relatively low cost,” Nayyar points out.

Making a print ad innovative is creatively challenging and time-consuming. “How much can the creative team churn out day-in and day-out for a static, 2D medium? Great art needs more time. AR and QR codes do change the 2D game, but need wider adoption and then implementation, by end customer,” Nayyar further says.

Brands are constantly jostling for the consumers’ mind space while media vehicles are elbowing each other to get a share of the consumers’ eyeballs. Print rules when it comes to eliciting immediate call-to-action, topicality, announcement and information. Localisation is another potent weapon in its armour.

Suffice it to say that well-crafted and well-executed innovations in print are here to thrive and flourish.


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