Paulette Arsenault: Legacy media in a cyber-obsessed world

After judging the Press category at the Cannes Lions festival this year, I was asked by my colleagues if I had noticed any innovation in this sector. Is press - one of the oldest ad forms - evolving, and what's in store for the future of this medium?

By Paulette Arsenault, co-founder of Montreal-based PALM Arnold, award-winning CD and veteran awards show judge

After judging the Press category at the Cannes Lions festival this year, I was asked by my colleagues if I had noticed any innovation in this sector. Is press – one of the oldest ad forms – evolving, and what’s in store for the future of this medium?

From what I saw at Cannes, press is becoming more and more like outdoor. Of the 7,500 press pieces presented at the festival, most of the winners had this in common: a strong key visual with a very relevant theme line. No other copy. That’s it, that’s all, and that seemed to be enough. Does that mean copy is dead? I’m afraid so, but there are always a few exceptions.

Press is the ultimate challenge for any creative person. It is a tough medium to communicate in, let alone innovate.

We all know we are living in a world where consumers are bombarded each and every day by thousand of messages, and that’s not going to change. So the way to go for the future is making damn sure your message is as quick to decipher as possible.

But it is not impact alone that makes a great ad; the core messaging must touch a sensitive chord with the target. So the difference between a good and a great ad in the next few years will be the new and interesting insights that advertisers come up with, that people can relate to, that speak to the human side, to emotions. That’s the way to reach people in a new, consumer-centric world.

So what does that mean for the future of the press ad? It will have to refine itself an awful lot if it wants to be noticed. First, the core messaging will be based on better, more human strategic insights, versus being too focused on the product. Secondly, on the graphic side, importance will be given to a key visual, a bit like the first days of advertising posters. Within the same campaign there should be various executions of the same basic idea, and each will carry the same theme line, making the message more memorable. If copy is used, it should be used in an unusual way, enticing the consumer to read it all and really get hooked in.

Challenging, but exciting.

Paulette’s pick: P&G’s new attitude

What really impressed me was the number of Proctor & Gamble entries that made the short list. P&G also won the Advertiser of the Year award. As a company, P&G first came to Cannes in 2003 to see what the rest of world was doing, and came out with a new vision. It was quite simple: they put fun, warmth and imagination into their advertising, and this year’s report card shows it all. To evolve their advertising, they made it more human.

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