Don't judge print: It's not dead yet

How am I going to survive judging work that doesn’t move and can’t be interacted with? While honored to be selected as a juror, that’s what I thought when I was invited to judge this year’s Cannes Lions Print & Publishing category.

I won’t lie, my expectations were low. And then I learned there were 10 percent fewer entries than last year in the category — further convincing me that I’d be judging a dying category and medium. I prepared myself to take a journey to the past, and off to Cannes I went.

But everything changed. After one week of judging, I left completely inspired and with a new perspective on print: It’s far from dead.

Power in Print

Yes, there’s power in print. Just take a look at the Grand Prix Winner, Burger King. Without context it might seem an odd choice. It’s a simple letter, and while not a piece of beauty, it has started one of the most brilliant campaigns of this year: The “McWhopper”.

Burger King bought a full-page ad in The New York Times, publishing an open letter to McDonald's asking the brand to collaborate on a limited product, the "McWhopper.” It was to be sold one day as a message of peace. And it was powerful. There’s a permanency to it when it’s printed in black and white and on paper. Tweets are fleeting. A letter has a soul and heart. If this had been posted on Facebook, it wouldn’t have had the same impact.

Interactive Print

The industry has tried to make interactive print before with QR codes and failed. This is because we did not embrace print for what it actually is: a physical experience. Mexico’s Paper Glasses campaign showed how powerful something as simple as a physical insert could be.

To help children in poorer regions with their vision, they created a simple test called Paper Glasses. Black paper with precisely placed holes, meant to alter depth of field, allowed kids to test their vision. These paper glasses were inserted into schoolbooks along with an eyesight guide, reaching millions of children and helping many remain in school. Again, print proving its worth.

Publishing and Editorial Content

Content. Content. Content. A day doesn’t go by without a client asking for it, but when we think of content, most of us think of digital film, social campaigns, digital experiences, and user generated content. Not print. But, we must remember, printed information was the original form of content.

A great example of how this content can be powerful was It’s Not OK & Home Magazine’s campaign, “Paradise Hill.”

Within their editorial pages, they featured a high-income home with telltale signs of domestic violence. In the elegantly shot photos, you’d see broken chairs and blood on stairway railings. On the final page, they revealed the shocking truth, that domestic violence can affect anybody, even those in high-income areas. This idea was beautifully integrated, powerful and didn’t interrupt like the typical ad.

I arrived at Cannes cynical of print. I left inspired and ready to find ways to embrace its strengths, not force it into being something it’s not.

Corinna Falusi is chief creative officer at Ogilvy & Mather New York

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