POV: Do Creative Agencies Neglect Print Ads?

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 17, 2014
Within creative agencies, is there a growing lack of enthusiasm towards print advertising? afaqs! finds out.

K V Sridhar

Nisha Singhania

Ashish Bhasin

Nitin Chaudhry

K V Sridhar, chief creative officer, Indian subcontinent, Leo Burnett

Very little print exists even to neglect. Print has been a neglected child. If at all there is anything, it is the one-off opportunistic ad around Women's Day, or Diabetics' Day or some other such day. Very rarely do you see any good, thematic print advertising these days. Print ads, even on part of the biggest advertisers, say, from the insurance, automotive or real estate sectors, involve a lot of sales advertising.

Print as a medium has become extremely transactional today; and there's no pride in showcasing such mundane, transactional work, which constitutes almost 98 per cent of the work. Agencies prefer talking about their big campaigns which actually form only two per cent of their work. People are a bit shy about their print work. Besides, they don't want anyone to say 'Oh this is a scam ad', 'This ad ran only in Guwahati' or 'Hey, this ran only in Shivaji Park', and so on.

Nisha Singhania, co-founder and director, Infectious

If you look at it from the way agencies traditionally segregated their work, medium-wise - the NCD would do television, the CD would do print and the junior most person would do BTL - then yes. However, in today's day and age, if you want to be an agency of ideas, then why would you want to waste a medium like print? Print is an expensive medium and has huge reach.

But what has happened is this - there are certain brands that still look at things in the traditional way; they use television to communicate the brand message and positioning, and print is used to communicate promotional or tactical offers. This is when interest levels around print dip. So, the mindset of both, agencies and marketers needs to change. We cannot neglect print.

Ashish Bhasin, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network, South Asia

If they are neglecting print, it is at their own peril. India is one of the few countries in which newspaper readership is still growing; in most parts of the world it is falling. So there's no reason why print should be ignored. However, what tends to happen today, particularly in some of the older creative agencies, is that the senior most people work on TV and print is relegated down the line.

Out of home is being given to the junior most people - often print ads are simply taken and adopted onto the outdoor format. That is a very poor trend. It is not a good sign. Print requires a lot of hard work and craft, but TV gives you overnight visibility. That's one reason why this is happening.

Nitin Chaudhry, business head, Hindustan Times, Mumbai

Each medium has its own role to play in a given media plan. Print delivers impact, comprehension and reach, TV delivers emotion and top of mind recall. Digital to an extent delivers immediate call to action. So each medium requires a very different type of creative rendition. All the big creative directors you talk about today have become successful based on the print ads they did in the past.

Yes, today print does take a little bit of a backseat in the minds of creative directors, primarily because TV, or rather, audio-visual, as a medium is far more glamorous. Also, in the minds of media planners, and therefore, in the minds of creative people, there are some categories for which print is less important and those for which print is more important.

Over the past several years, FMCG advertising in print has been reducing, and as a category, FMCG has been weaning off print, year on year. However, over the past year (2013-14) we have seen a reverse trend - FMCG print advertising has come back in a very big way. This could be because people realised there was too much of a bias towards TV.

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