More than a decade ago, people in India woke up to a talking newspaper. Yes, you read that correctly.
When Volkswagen wanted to announce its launch in India, the company turned to print to create an impactful innovation that would be the talk of the town. And boy did it succeed! It’s being talked about even now in marketing circles — a voice chip that made every Times of India reader literally wake up! VW then followed this up with a buzzing newspaper and a newspaper with the VW Polo car die cut through all pages. This was probably the biggest kick-off to innovations in print.
The other day, my Android phone prompted me for a software upgrade. After upgrading, there were some visual differences. One of the features added was the ability to merge two emoticons as a gif! I realised it must be so simple to keep innovating in the digital medium and keep the excitement going.
When it comes to print, it involves a whole lot of work, including investment in printing technologies to enable new possibilities, multiple trials, and collaborations. However, the next excitement is always around the corner for those willing to wait and pay the right price.
It’s been proven many times that print is far from static, contrary to what people may think. It is the only medium that can engage with all five senses:
- Visual imagery through inks, 3D effects, lenticulars, etc.
- Touch through different kinds of paper.
- Smell through a fragrant paper to bring alive the brand experience.
- Sound, as mentioned earlier.
- Taste through the possibility for an edible paper.
In a post-COVID-19 world, we have seen advertisers demanding innovative solutions to make a bigger impact with less investment. While technology-driven innovations are not always possible within budgets and timelines, we have done some path-breaking work in content and format innovations using the advantage of our masthead and archives, unique only to us.
Innovations in print have also been a crucial piece of media launch plans for advertisers across categories. Innovation is the most impactful way to announce a product launch, differentiate the brand from peers, and make competition and consumers sit up and take notice. Advertisers are increasingly beginning to recognise that a print innovation, when done right, also feeds into organic virality on social media.
It’s worth diving into three trends that have become increasingly popular:
- Format innovations including integration of the ad within editorial and the masthead.
- Contextual innovations using archival content effectively.
- Engagement-led innovations, where a brand is unveiled bit-by-bit.
When we use the uniqueness of our masthead to enhance brand engagement, we call this “masthead integration.” It works very well, especially when we can integrate the brand message.
The people of India recently woke up to a front-page jacket formally announcing the takeover of Air India by the Tata Group. This is an historic announcement captured in print.
We have also increased visibility of advertisements with an “edit wrap.”
Advertisers are increasingly looking to integrate their messaging in the organic contextual environment of newspapers. This could be in the form of utilising the newspaper’s organic environment (like many brands with the Times Sport page) or using the rich archival content of newspapers to their advantage (like Star Sports).
This can also be done by using the intellectual property of the newspaper brand (like Google using the Times of India’s iconic Common Man) or by contextualising the online campaign to print (such as Tinder’s consent innovation).
Every advertiser wants an idea that’s different. Using various aspects of the newspaper and printing technology becomes imperative to create new ideas, while enhancing interactivity and brand discovery.
One way we’ve done this is be creating intrigue on the front page and encouraging people to open up the message through a “French window.”
We have also used multiple “bookmarks” to reveal the brand benefits bit-by-bit before the final reveal.
Innovations will play a crucial role in maintaining the engagement quotient with the print medium and ensuring its relevance in a rapidly evolving technology-driven marketplace. It creates high impact and enhances brand engagement with the message, resulting in higher recall and shareability.
Keeping the excitement going with the print medium from an advertiser’s perspective will always remain the responsibility of the publishers. This is not only through sustained investments and collaborations with technology, but also by having a cutting-edge team that is able to apply insights and developments from other media and quickly adapting them to print.