Cannes Lions judging shows print and publishing remain 'one of purest forms of creativity'

Having just spent an enjoyable few days leading the Cannes jury for the Print & Publishing Lions, Kate Stanners says she has seen first-hand that the category is alive and well.

The work submitted this year showed the jury that the medium continues to be one of the purest forms of creativity and has the power to break boundaries in new and inventive ways.

Print is really where it all started for advertising. Despite the dramatic transformation of the media landscape, it’s still very much a poignant and serious medium today.

The permanence of print gives it unrivalled authority and potency in messaging to mass audiences.

And in an age where we rely on our one-dimensional phones for almost everything, the ability to pick up a book, or a newspaper, or a magazine – to flip through it, fold the pages, feel the product, smell the fresh ink – only adds to the impact of a printed piece.

Make no mistake: print is a daunting and intimidating branch of advertising in our digitally dominant world.

While it speaks to simplicity, the process is complex and confining; and the output is un-editable and can be more difficult to time, target and track.

A great print ad demands excellence in both the idea and the execution. And you only get one shot at it before it becomes an indelible object in the physical world.

While these may sound like negative constraints, they are actually opportunities: print thrives on the idea that creativity shines strongest when forced to work within set boundaries.

During the past week, I have been privileged and thrilled to witness first-hand how a flood of brilliant ideas and executions is raising the stature of print and modernizing its impact as a medium.

I’d like to share with you some of my favorite pieces, along with a few key themes that came up in our sessions:

Budweiser "Tagwords" (Grand Prix winner)

Agency: Africa (Brazil)

This campaign in Brazil used typographical ads of search words that would allow music fans to Google iconic historical images of legendary artists holding Bud cans or bottles. It was an extraordinarily clever way of engaging people with the brand and its musical history by turning a print ad into an interactive journey – and avoiding the copyright and celebrity endorsement issues associated with using the photographs. It’s a perfectly conceived ad that uses print in an iconic way by combining the physical with the virtual.

Lyric Opera of Chicago "Are You Opera Enough?" (Gold Lion)

Agency: Ogilvy Chicago

This campaign used a series of jaw-dropping print ads to inject some "cool" into opera, using headlines like "Sex and drugs and opera" to appeal to a new audience with great effect. It’s a perfect coming together of ideas, writing, art direction, illustration and typography that was a master class of the craft.

IKEA Sweden "IKEA pee ad" (Gold Lion)

Agency: Åkestam Holst

This retail ad for a cot doubled as a pregnancy test, encouraging women to pee on it. A positive test leads to an instant discount. IKEA is really pushing the boundaries of print and creating a great story around the ad.

KFC "FCK" (Gold Lion)

Agency: Mother London

This quick-thinking response to the KFC’s embarrassing chicken shortage in the London area (pictured above, main image) is a stroke of genius, using full-page newspaper ads to convey an apology to its customers: "FCK, We’re Sorry." The contextual importance of newspapers in conveying apologies was not lost on Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who, one month later, placed a series of printed newspaper ads of his own.

KFC Birdland (Hong Kong) (Gold Lion)

Agency: Ogilvy Hong Kong

Another, very different, KFC campaign in Hong Kong used the visual appeal of print to maximum effect, doctoring a series of explosive images – dragster races, rocket launches and action heroes scenes  – so that KFC’s spicy fried chicken replaces the fire and flames. It’s a simple visual metaphor that is executed to perfection, making the food look beautiful.

Launch of Daily Abuse in SA (Silver Lion)

People Opposing Women’s Abuse (POWA) launched a broadsheet print newspaper to highlight the prevalence of gender-based abuse in South Africa. The Daily Abuse carries 360 real stories of abuse, the average number of cases recorded per day in South Africa. In fact, among the entries we saw a theme of a gender equality and the use of print as an effective medium to rewrite the history of women.

These are just a few examples of the importance of print advertising and the wealth of rich creative ideas that continues to fuel its effectiveness. While the category may seem confining, it forces great creative minds to create in unexpected ways. Print provides an opportunity to step back and appreciate the simplicity of an idea on a page. And it’s often the simplest ideas that stay with us the longest.

Kate Stanners is global chief content officer at Saatchi & Saatchi and head of the Print & Publishing jury at Cannes Lions

 

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