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
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
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?