I got my start in this business making print ads. I loved everything about them: the challenge of the blank page; the possibilities of the two-dimensional plane; the art of combining an image and words to yield an idea greater than the sum of the parts; and the chance to create pictures in a reader’s mind with nothing but a perfectly crafted headline.
In the early days, Mullen was known for its print. Campaigns for Timberland, Smartfood, Swiss Army, LL Bean and many others were a perennial presence in local and national award shows. We built arguably one of the best studios in the business, worked with renowned photographers all over the world, and attracted art directors who were obsessed with the craft.
Then, thanks to the web, it all came crashing down. We got all kinds of new creative platforms — video, social, mobile, applications — but the rapid demise of that age-old form so many of us loved was (for those of us over 40) shocking. At least at first.
But now, the medium is about to get a second life. Thank you iPad. It will give us back all of things that made print great:
- A large two-dimensional space on which to create a piece of commercial art that captures one’s attention.
- A palette onto which we can place stunning visuals.
- An environment (digital magazines) where a reader may actually welcome something remarkable rather than simply look for the little “x” to close the ad.
Of course, it will also inspire something entirely different: a totally new digital form of print. Think Bernbach meets iPhone meets Wired meets UGC meets social media. All potentially combined into a single execution that’s conceptual, engaging, user friendly.
Consdider what Pentagram has to say:
“The conventions of online advertising—banner ads, pop ups, and so forth—aren’t popular with readers, with advertisers, and certainly not with designers. But the iPad is a new medium that will create a whole range of opportunities. Once people start exploiting what it can do, we may see the kind of creative renaissance that will deliver the next George Lois or Lee Clow. People will start subscribing to certain i-mags just for the ads alone.”
If you’re not already thinking about the possibilities of the iPad and the creation of a new form of digital print you should be. I imagine all of the following as possibilities. Eventually you’ll be able to create ads that let consumers:
- View a product from every imaginable angle with the flick of the finger.
- Change the colors and patterns of anything from shirt and tie combinations to the interior of a car.
- Upload and incorporate images of themselves into an execution so they can try on different outfits or pieces of jewelry.
- Instantly link or connect to back stories about how a product was made; learn its carbon footprint or its nutritional information.
- Find all their Twitter and Facebook friends who have bought the same brand or product to get their personal opinion (new application for Blippy?)
- Explore a brand via digital games, back stories, or through integration with other media, i.e. TV shows.
- Decide which version of an ad or which ad from a brand he even wants to see.
- Share, vote, rate ads in real time forcing creators to get better and more responsive
So, while we’re still a couple of months away from the first shipments, there are a number of things you could be doing right now. For starters, order your iPad and while you’re at it reserve at least a few for your creative department. Then consider the following:
- Make sure your current iPhone app developers are in touch with Apple regarding what will be possible with the iPad and have them share that with creative teams.
- Learn what Conde Nast and other major publishers have planned for their magazines’ conversion to tablets and how you can create advertising that will work in their new digital formats.
- Assemble a team made up of creative technologists, UX specialists, media planners, social media thinkers and creative people to start thinking about the possibilities.
- Identify the brands and clients who are most willing and excited about re-inventing how to tell their stories.
- Avoid simply migrating old content, images and OLA type executions to this new platform. It’s a chance to create something entirely new: executions that change daily; that include digital games; that incorporate real-time conversation.
I don’t have my iPad yet. (It is on order, though.) I haven’t seen a Conde Nast presentation in person. And I don’t have a team assembled internally as of today. But it’s all on the to do list. What about you?
Links and other articles of interest.
Sports Illustrated: Tablet Demo
Made by Many: Content design with cojones
CNN Tech: Print media hails iPad potential
Daily Illini: iPad could save print media
C-Change Media: Why ads on the iPad and other tablets won’t make a difference
Steve Jobs photo by: curious lee