We’re only one month in to 2017, but there have been some interesting and refreshingly different ads gracing the pages of newspapers in the past weeks.

Take Dove’s #RealFacts creative, which recently appeared in The Guardian and The Times. The ad ran as the furore over reality-twisting half-truths rumbled on, stoked by Kellyanne Conway’s reference to “alternative facts” when discussing Donald Trump’s inauguration crowds.

A recent print ad by Dove played off the “alternative facts” conversation surrounding Trump administration in the United States.
A recent print ad by Dove played off the “alternative facts” conversation surrounding Trump administration in the United States.

Quick off the mark, Dove capitalised on the opportunity for a topical ad.

On one page, the ad listed a range of alternative facts — from “New Dove antiperspirant increases your IQ by 40 points” to “New Dove antiperspirant will locate that lost sock from two years ago.” Another stated one #RealFact: “New Dove antiperspirant cares for your underarm skin like never before.”

It’s a witty example of how print ads can be used to make a relevant, poignant statement.

Up next is Sainsbury’s advertising revamp. Breaking with the usual food advertising format of tasty close-ups, its bold new campaign is its first since moving its ad account to Widen & Kennedy. 

In print, the double-page spreads are attention-grabbing and pop art-esque, with giant fried eggs, rhubarb stalks, and broccoli florets creating colourful backgrounds for dancing monochrome figures.

Sainsbury’s recent ad was particularly eye-catching.
Sainsbury’s recent ad was particularly eye-catching.

The whole premise — #fooddancing — is out of the ordinary, but instinctively makes sense. Who doesn’t have the odd dance around the kitchen? Maybe it’s the La La Land effect, but these rhythmic ads feel very 2017.

In a similar vein of fun, Netflix tapped into Blue Monday to promote its adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events via an open letter from Snicket in the press.

Placed in the morning free-sheet, Metro, the letter addressed “brave commuters” and stated: “Morale is low during the melancholy month of January and especially on Blue Monday, foulest of all days. Not only are you forced to brave the bitter elements and one of any number of debilitating ailments, there’s the terrible, terrible commute to endure.”

Going on to list a number of “perilous predicaments” that might befall the increasingly anxious reader, the letter implored commuters not to watch the “tragic tale of the Baudelaire orphans” as it would only “exacerbate your miserable misery.”

Not only did the ad bring the character to life perfectly, but it also created intrigue. By tying it into the Blue Monday hype and targeting Metro readers, 37% of whom are 18-34 years old, it reached an audience more likely to be familiar with the books from childhood than older readers.

Last but not least, Yorkshire Tea called on reader participation with its latest press creative. Generating awareness of its tree-growing project, the ad asked readers to colour in the featured Gruffalo scene and tweet a picture with #yorkshiretree to spread word of the initiative, landing a serious message in an inventive way.

The latest Yorkshire Tea ad called for audience participation.
The latest Yorkshire Tea ad called for audience participation.

All in all, it’s been a good month for innovative and imaginative press ads. From encouraging readers to pick up their colouring pens to addressing the battle between alternative and real facts in a trusted, relevant context, the above demonstrate the unique role print ads continue to play.