If print were a person, it would be a Spartan
Three time Cannes Lions juror, Joji Jacob of DDB Singapore, has been tapped to lead the refreshed Print & Publishing category at the Festival this year, aimed to celebrate what modern print can be. Joji certainly understands how to steer reinvention – his integrated creative department is made up of 140 creative directors, copywriters, art directors, digital designers and technologists. And he also still values the classic skills associated with the medium. We asked Joji to reflect on his role as Jury President and the role of print advertising in the future.
This is the first year of the newly renamed Print & Publishing Lions. What effect, if any, do you think it will have on the category?
Obviously, there will be more variety of work to look at and judge. We will need to switch hats every now and then when we look at print and then at the publishing work. I’m hoping there will be tons of books and other long-form content.
Print is branded as “old media”. What about it excites you? What makes it still fresh today?
At only slight risk of hyperbole, I’d claim that if print were a person, it would be a Spartan. It is communication in its purest form. An idea, a carefully composed picture, a bunch of carefully chosen words. And it’s the medium of the brave. You can’t hide behind gimmicks, you can’t ship it and then fix it. You can’t tweak it as you go along. It leaves your hands, and then it either thrives or dies.
Is it more difficult to be original or innovative in print?
Obviously print as a medium has its limitations. Unlike your smartphone, you don’t look at a newspaper or magazine an average of 150 times a day. But print also has its place. In a world of dubious information, the printed word carries more authority than ever. The web is rumours; print is news.
Research suggests that readers focus more on print ads and consider them more reliable and relevant, particularly when seen in publications they read regularly. Does this have any bearing on how you develop print ideas or how you judge their effectiveness?
The research only confirms a hunch we’ve all had for some time now. If you want the truth, you go to a medium you trust, not to the flaky web. The printed word still carries weight. But what it lacks is the addictive quality of the digital medium. Print is tea; the web is crack. My criteria while judging a piece of print work will be to ask myself if it’s more engaging than my Facebook feed, more arresting than my Instagram feed, and more informative than my Twitter feed. And then, is it more persuasive than all of the three.
In our readily digitized world, how has print changed? Is it more precious, direct or personalized?
Unfortunately, even the best print writers and art directors seem apologetic about creating print work. I can’t say I have seen any breakthroughs in the medium yet. I’m hoping like hell I’ll see some while judging at Cannes. The younger folks seem to drift to all the shiny new things. And with that we are losing the great print skills that are still needed in all the new media: great storytelling, craft, attention to detail.
What were some of your own favorite print campaigns over the year?
This is best answered after we’re done with looking at all the work in Cannes.