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Dipstick: Have ad films killed the golden era of print ad creativity?

People still remember the ITC ‘Made for Each Other’ print ads for Wills cigarettes. David Ogilvy’s ad for Rolls Royce on the sound of the dashboard clock is an all-time legend. But advertising seems to have changed a lot with the advent and dominance of television commercials. What happened to those great lines and graphics that made such wonderful copy? Industry stalwarts dig deep on the subject

Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | June 15, 2015


There was a time when brands built themselves on the strength of print ads. Remember the Wills ‘Made for Each Other’ ads? How can one forget that Amul built itself solely on print ads. The ‘Amul Girl’ in her polka-dot dress is a legend and still continues her run. Then we had the Humara Bajaj ads. The list is endless.

The print medium itself has become more sophisticated over time with technological advancements. But whatever happened to Print ads? Has the ad industry turned its face away from print ads in favour of the sexier TVCs? Are great copywriters not around to make great print ads?

BestMediaInfo spoke to some of the best known names in advertising to find out whether the ubiquitous TVCs have killed the golden era of print creativity.

KV Sridhar KV Sridhar

KV Sridhar, Chief Creative Officer, Sapient Nitro:

Print creativity has been dead for twenty years. Print as a medium has become a medium for informative content. As a medium, print has declined and what is keeping it alive is just as an awareness piece of information. Also, only the scam advertisements and awards are keeping it alive.

Abhijit Avasthi Abhijit Avasthi

Abhijit Awasthi, Founder, Sideways Consulting:

No, it is not that. Print ads have always been powerful since the start of the advertisement era. There have been beautiful print ads which have created history. Why ad films are so much in talk right now is probably due to the advent of social media. One medium can never kill any other medium. It just depends upon the availability and choosing the right medium for the right message.

Josy Paul Josy Paul

Josy Paul, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India:

Nothing ever dies. They take new forms. Mediums evolve. The traditional print medium is not competing with TV, it is competing with itself as it adapts and finds new avatars of itself – Facebook posts, Whatsapp content, digital banners, web pages, posters, outdoor and even T-shirt messages. Change is inevitable. This is the golden era of evolution. So let's not cry for print, let's dance for evolution.

Lloyd Mathias Lloyd Mathias

Lloyd Mathias, Marketing Head, Printing & Personal Systems, Hewlett-Packard India:

Given diminishing attention spans, the consumer focus has shifted away from copy led print advertising.  However, while visual content in the form of TV advertising is an easy way to tell a brand story, sometimes the power of the printed word still prevails. An effective print ad with worthwhile copy and impactful art will still get noticed and read. Most importantly, it can help alter consumer’s perception about a brand.

I think the era of print advertising is far from over – it’s just that a lot more print advertising may be consumed electronically.

Swapan Seth Swapan Seth

Swapan Seth, Chairman, Equus:

Your question is strategically flawed. Are you saying that films have killed print ads? They have not. Print ads continue to flourish but with a visual bias. The craft of copy is rarely recognised nowadays. There are very few people who can craft copy well and fewer clients that have an appreciation for them. Plus, a film idea is collaborative and therefore easier to crack. Copy is not. It is individualistic because there are few writers, there are few people who can train youngsters to write beautifully. Films didn’t kill long copy ads. Poor copywriters did.

Agnello Dias Agnello Dias

Agnello Dias, Co-founder and CCO, Taproot India:

This is something that is going on from last ten years but I think it is not about ad films. It is about the medium. The visual medium has always been one level up from others. Television as medium over took books, etc., years ago and the same is being applied in the advertising world too.

Ashish Bhasin Ashish Bhasin

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network:

In general when Television was launched there was speculation that print medium will die but it did not. What has happened is that the creativity has gone down and that is what has made the point being raised. But the era of print ads being under threat is over. Ad films are a different medium and print and innovations in that space is a different story.

Ajay Kakar Ajay Kakar

Ajay Kakar, CMO, Aditya Birla Group Financial Services Group

Ad films are not killing the golden era of print creativity. We are! The fact is that print is a dying art. You will not find many who can think print, enjoy print or are masters in the craft of print writing. Simultaneously and mistakenly, most feel that ad films are the first and only solution to all brand needs. And this perpetuates the problem.

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