Perspective: Take advantage of the press for work that is copy based

Now, you may or may not choose to agree with the decisions of the Campaign Press Awards jury (see story and supplement this week). Having sat in on their deliberations, I can report that not only did I find myself in harmony with the way they reached their decisions - that is, I listened to the arguments and agreed with them - but also with the choices themselves.

Now, you may or may not choose to agree with the decisions of the

Campaign Press Awards jury (see story and supplement this week). Having

sat in on their deliberations, I can report that not only did I find

myself in harmony with the way they reached their decisions - that is, I

listened to the arguments and agreed with them - but also with the

choices themselves.



Who doesn’t find the Adidas ad stunning?



But let me draw your attention to a comment by the jury’s chairman, Paul

Weinberger of Lowe Howard-Spink, who noted the remarkable absence of

copy - you know, letters that are then joined up to make words - from

most of the entries, let alone the winners. Without passing judgement,

Weinberger says: ’Study the winners for yourselves and see how many

times you think copy has been used as an element of communication and

how many times as a mere element of design.’



This is interesting because (like Weinberger, I suspect), I’d always

thought of the press as a unique medium and one that advertisers should

use in a unique way. But many of these ads could double as posters or

stills from TV campaigns. But it’s even more complicated. I’ve often

heard poster ads criticised for being no more than blown-up press ads -

take much of the work for cigarettes and cars - which suggests this is a

two-way process.



So what’s going on here? Are we seeing a merging and blurring of the

media in such a way that press ads become interchangeable with posters,

and so on? Or is there a collective, if so far unarticulated, move on

the part of creatives and clients to reassess the role of the press as

an advertising medium? If so, what does this mean for the press itself,

as well as for other media?



Correct me if I’m wrong but, broadly speaking, I’d always assumed the

press lent itself to the more information-intensive advertising

messages, meaning lots of words, copy, call it what you like.



So if advertisers aren’t using the press to communicate longer, more

information-intensive or more complex sales messages, what are they

using? Is it direct mail, the Internet or a combination of the two? If

the latter is true, then it may be that the average press ad in the

future will be little more than a branding mechanism, with perhaps a

coupon in order to build the database and a damn great big Website

address where you can go for all the information (and more) you used to

get from press ads.



Of course, you could just say this is a reflection of our move from a

word-based culture to a more visual one. I prefer to think of it as

another aspect of the much-talked about dumbing-down process, which is

another way of saying it’s not a trend I’m comfortable with.



Not that my opinion makes any difference. But there is a real danger

that some of the unique strengths of the press as an advertising medium

are being whittled away. If you don’t use the press for copy-based ads,

then what do you use it for?



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