Magazine article Marketing

Brands Still on the Paper Trail

Magazine article Marketing

Brands Still on the Paper Trail

Article excerpt

Glib statements that print marketing products have been superseded by digital developments ignore the phenomenal breakthroughs in print innovation and techniques, writes Melanie May.

Print is no longer yesterday's news. From stunning cust-omer magazines to the grow-ing number of campaigns that integrate print and digi- tal communications with QR codes and augmented reality, the past 12 months have brought significant innovation. A growing number of brands are embracing new techniques and technologies to engage consumers.

While headlines may pit print and online platforms against each other, smart marketers realise the benefits of both. The trend is reflected by Google, which in March this year surprised many when it announced the launch of its own print B2B magazine, Think Quarterly.

'Brands are increasingly realising that although there are more ways to connect with customers, it's becoming harder to get their attention, so it's very much about reaching people with the right message in the right place at the right time,' says Keith Grainger, chief executive of customer communications agency Redwood.

'Print is a strong part of the mix.'

Visual appeal plays a vital role in winning attention. 'The idea that volume is important has gone,' says Toby Smeeton, managing director at publishing agency Sunday. 'It's more about engagement, so what comes through the door in terms of content and how it looks and feels is important. Without creative standout, it doesn't get a look in.'

Worth the trouble

Brands are pulling out the stops to grab consumers' attention. In November last year, Volkswagen in Australia caused a stir with a direct mail piece printed onto leather to promote its Eos model. Its creation may have broken four printers, but the impact caused was worth it.

Other high-impact direct mail pieces have included bird seed on an RSPB mailer printed by Lateral Group, a metal envelope from Royal Mail to promote the launch of its Tracked service, and 3D mailings such as the one created by EMO late last year to promote the Alfa Romeo MiTo Turismo. The campaign for the MiTO was so successful that the car sold out a month after launch.

'There are lots of innovative ways to get that necessary dominance and level of engagement with print,' says Gavin Wheeler, chief executive of direct response specialist WDMP. A mailpack it created to promote the Philips Shine programme for dentists used ink that showed up only with a UV pen, while a die-cut mailer for Sonicare last year looked like a simple postcard but pushed out to become a trophy, driving kids online to a viral game that received 9m plays as a result.

The recent move away from volume mail has also resulted in a willingness to spend more on communications, which in turn is boosting creativity.

'We're seeing an uplift in the type of paper and the finishes being used,' says Andy Ruddle, sales and marketing director of digital print firm Real Digital International. 'Now we see more efficient, more clever formats, and a greater use of specialist finishes and papers to make packs special.'

The sectors embracing digital print are also changing. Where once they tended to be brands selling high-ticket items, such as cars and holidays, now those in almost every market are getting in on the act.

Lateral Group's clients include the RSPB, Sky, Hillarys Blinds, and the government's Change4Life campaign.

The communication agency's group sales director, Nick Barbeary, notes: 'Comp-anies are prepared to pay a bit more to get standout from a printed piece. The look and feel of it is a lot more important now, while digital print is enabling high personalisation and targeting.'

He adds that demand for specialist inks and finishes, including metallic inks, glitter and holograms, has increased.

Image recognition

Innovation is not restricted to direct mail. …

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