Print ads are the benchmark for copywriters. Is it dying? Possibly, the print industry certainly has seen better days. But I’m not here to talk about the print industry, instead about print ads and their role.
As the world becomes more digital us creative folk have to demonstrate more and more digital work in our books. Now there’s nothing wrong with that. We have to adapt to the changing trends, but it is important to prove that a creative can actually write a print ad. The reason for this is that with a print ad there is no where to hide. There is no animation, no sfx, no quick cuts to demonstrate tension or music to set the mood. Just paper.
Print has a certain beauty to it. A friend of mine said that he enjoys print better because “of what you can do with an 8 1/2 x 11”. He’s right. With commercials you do need your own necessary skills to be able to execute a great spot, but you can mask certain details. Print it is all out there for the world to see, the good and the bad. It truly has to be perfect. The ones that truly achieve this are so iconic that they have become timeless.
These ads have to be quick. Fast enough to grab the readers attention, say what you want to say, then sign off before they get bored. The balance of how much copy is needed to get the message across as efficiently as possible, is what I enjoy most about writing it. To be able to take a complex and dry strategy and pare it down to a 7 word headline and a 20 word body, truly makes this genre of writing an art. Print is a great test for any writer. Yes other media have certain challenges, but with print you’re naked as a writer.
Print in the form of magazines will possibly fade away. It’ll exist on tablets and phones, but in the form of a digital magazine. That technology will most likely utilize sfx, audio, animation and video to make the ad stand out and gain attention. Thus killing the classic print ad. However, outdoor advertising via billboards and the like will continue to hold strong. So print and it’s complex-simplicity will fully migrate to outdoor advertising. The headlines there will survive, but body copy will most likely fade into the background — not like many read it anyways.
Apps, you gotta love ’em. There are apps for almost everything. Probably sometime soon there will be one for heart surgery too.
One of my favorite apps is The Simpsons Tapped Out. If you have never played it, don’t. It’s addictive. So addictive that you might even end up writing a blog post about it. The premise of the game is that Homer blows up Springfield and he has to rebuild it. So basically it is a Simpsons version of The Sims.
A large portion of the game is free. It is free to download, free to do almost everything, but of course there are things you can only get by converting real money into virtual money in the form of donuts.
What I’m here to talk about is the very very subtle form of advertising that exists in the game. No not the blatantly obvious form that everything in the game is The Simpsons. But instead what the sole purpose of this game is: to get people to watch The Simpsons. (As a side note there is a guy on WordPress who has an excellent blog about this game it’s called: The Simpsons Tapped Out Tips http://tstotips.com/)
Before downloading this game I hadn’t watched a Simpsons episode in years. I used to like the show in its early years, then the writing changed, Family Guy became popular, then redundant, and I just started watching other shows other than The Simpsons. In the game certain things happen to promote that week’s coming show. For example a week or so ago Moe gets a “new lease on life” and he is given a suit and tasks, and of course the gamer is given curiosity about that week’s show.
That is exactly how these kinds of apps should work, and to a greater extent how advertising campaigns should be. They should engage the audience in one medium and then point them towards another. In the case of The Simpsons, the primary medium is the television show, all other media they use to promote their show should encourage the audience to watch the show. Their Tapped Out game does exactly that. It encourages and intrigues people to watch the show, and it makes people who rarely or used to watch the show fall back in love with the characters and their antics.
In my opinion this is exactly the kind of advertising that is going to exist on mobile devices in the near future. Ads in content are annoying, although some are done very well. But a great use of mobile apps to promote a brand could really help drive people to it.