31 October 00:00

Printed Content Is “One Of The Purest Forms Of Creativity”

Printed content is still perhaps the most creative medium in the advertising world.

By Mediaplanet Creative Team

Who doesn’t like new and shiny? Especially among us marketers?

Whenever a new platform arrives, we all rush to be first. There are new customers to be won and there’s market share to be carved out. Part of the fun, of course, is also finding creative ways to shape content to the new medium and seeing what we can come up with. But when it comes to truly creative content, there’s nothing like print to bring out the best ideas in marketers.

Maybe it’s the simplicity, the fact that all you get to work with is the page. There’s no animation. It’s only two dimensions and ads have to fit to the size of the newspaper or magazine. But when we marketers are forced to work within set boundaries, our creativity seems to really shine.

If you want proof, you need look no further than Cannes Lions. Grand Prix winners and Gold Lion Awardees are all testaments to the power of printed content and show why Cannes Lions' jury president Kate Stanners called it "one of the purest forms of creativity."

See below for a few of past Cannes Lions awardees for outstanding print ads and take some cues for your next printed ad campaign. 

Budweiser "Tagwords" (Grand Prix winner)

Agency: Africa (Brazil)

The print ad that the Brazilian agency, Africa, created for Budweiser is one that doesn’t invite readers in, but sends them away instead. The simple red ads each feature a few keywords like “1985 Rock Stars Holding Budweiser” and encourage readers to “Search it.”

Intrigued, most people probably put down their magazine or looked away from the billboard and googled the phrases on their phones. And what was waiting for them there? Photos of iconic musicians from rock, pop and hip-hip history holding cans or bottles of the brand’s beer.

It’s a clever idea that manages to skirt copyright issues, save millions in celebrity endorsements and take readers on a journey. As Kate Stanners said, "When you look at it, it's beautiful, it’s simple. But then it takes you somewhere else."


IKEA Sweden "IKEA pee ad" (Gold Lion)

Agency: Åkestam Holst (Sweden)

At first glance, Ikea’s ad for a crib in “Amelia,” a women’s publication in Sweden, looks pretty standard. But its tagline “Peeing on this ad may change your life” instantly lets you know that there’s more to it. Yes, Ikea invited the publication's readers to pee on their ad. And the company embedded it with something you won’t find in any other ad: a built-in pregnancy test.

Using similar technology to a standard pregnancy test, the ad transforms when peed on. But instead of becoming pink or blue, a section of the ad changes from blank into a coupon that expectant mothers can use for a discount on a crib. Brilliant, and it certainly created a splash.


KFC Birdland (Hong Kong) (Gold Lion)

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather (Hong Kong)

The best print ads make you do a double-take — and this print campaign from Ogilvy & Mather for KFC Hong Kong certainly does. In a campaign for its signature “Hot & Spicy” recipe, the agency created photos of the space shuttle, a race car and superheroes. But the twist here is that all three photos feature explosions that have been switched out for fried chicken. It’s stunning and works perfectly for the spicy chicken.

John Koay, creative director – Ogilvy Hong Kong said, “Hot & Spicy delivers a blast of fiery heat with every bite. But its crunchy texture and colour is visually similar to a real-life fireball. So this visual duality became our inspiration – and we just love how it’s come together in such a simple, yet universally understood way.”


KFC "FCK" (Gold Lion)

Agency: Mother London (UK)

Here’s a lesson for brands in crisis management: Earlier this year, KFC went through a pretty embarrassing situation. The UK division of the fried chicken restaurant ran out of chicken and had to temporarily close up shop at many branches .

So how did the brand apologize and try and win back its fans? With a creative stunt. It took out a full-page ad in two UK tabloid papers and rearranged its name to spell “FCK.”

As you would imagine, the tongue-in-cheek ad set social media abuzz and also had PR execs praising KFC for successfully turning a mistake into a positive.


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

Agency: Ogilvy Chicago (USA)

When Ogilvy Chicago wanted to help the Lyric Opera of Chicago inject something fresh into their brand, the agency turned to print ads. The campaign’s striking ads use headlines like “Sex and drugs and opera" matched with edgy images in an attempt to draw in a younger crowd. The effect is a combination of ideas, art direction, typography, illustration and writing that is a master class in how to create a brilliant print ad.


American Association of Nurse Anesthetists "Battle-tested Anesthesia Care" (Thanking Our Troops)

Agency: Mediaplanet (USA) 

Ok, this one wasn't submitted for Cannes Lions, but what type of creative content marketing folks would we be if we didn't shout out our own work? This in-house designed ad campaign created for the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists published within USA TODAY from our very own "Thanking Our Troops" campaign, was meant to evoke nostalgia of the roles nurses played in American history while still maintaining the important relevance to today's modern-day troops and their health. 

Uses of nostalgia references are being seen over and over again in recent advertising campaigns which helps to bring awareness to a message ranging from an older audience all the way to Millenials today. 

While these ads may have won outstanding awards, there's a ton of other print content out there whose creativity turns heads and stops people in their tracks. Are you considering a print campaign to set yourself apart from your competitors? Contact our awesome team, we can help!


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