Print advertising: innovations deliver when there is a deeper message to be conveyed


Have you ever countedthe number of ads in your newspaper? I did.

On one of the recent weekends, a leading English daily greeted readers with a full front page ad followed by number of large and small display ads. When counted, that day’s newspaper had 42 large display ads – quarter page or more. That’s hundreds of large display ads, almost every weekend, through 35 plus editions of this newspaper.

Print media, which attracted 41% of total ad spends in 2014 (television advertising stood second with 38% share) is at the heart of marketing strategy and media mix. The challenge for brand marketers is to create ads that make an impact and meaningfully engage customers – both at an emotional and a rational level.

Easier said than done.

In recent years, we have seen some amazing creative executions that unleash print’s ability to deliver a multisensory experience. Here are some examples of print ads that add an extra level of cognitive processing for deeper customer engagement - by experimenting with shapes, sizes, placements, technology etc.

Highlighting Product Features through Ad Placement

This center spread Ford ad is a wonderful example of effective ad placement and playing with shape creatively.

The shape of the ad gives readers a sense of sharp blind turns and illustrates how the LED headlights of the car can see around the corners.

The copy says – “Sees around the corners…before you do”.

How Instantis Instant?

Nescafe took their ‘instant coffee’ad to a whole new level through print.

The brand included two foldable paper mugs in branded newspapers with coffee powder in those cups. Reader could just add some hot water and enjoy their morning coffee, with someone they are sharing that particular moment with.

High Tech Product’s High Tech Ad

This Moto X ad showcases its vibrant range of colors in a magazine ad. The phone in the magazine ad changes colors when users press on the small color buttons at the bottom of the ad.

This print innovation was made using polycarbonate paper that covers LED light pipes, which are illuminated via circuitry running to the color swatches.

Innovation is Way of Life

Inspired by musical greeting cards, Volkswagen created a talking print ad. The idea was to drive the brand message that innovation is our way of life and it reflects even in the way we communicate.

As readers opened the last page of newspaper, a light-sensitive chip attached to the page announced the arrival of “a perfectly engineered car” – the Vento.

Result: Dealer inquiries went up by 200%. Vento achieved 12 per cent of its annual sales target in a single day.

Coffee That Stands for Best Aroma

When Bru Gold wanted to engage customers with the richness and aroma of their fine coffee, they sprayed a special perfume on newspapers, the smell of which was that of actual Bru Gold.

The readers while reading the newspaper could smell the coffee.

An Unmissable Call to Action

Tata Motors print ad for their Zest sedan had a very clear objective – driving customers to dealership.

The 4 page advertorial supplement came with a transparent packet stuck on the newspaper that had a uniquely bar-coded car key. Readers could visit a nearest dealer and match the bar code and stand a chance to win a Tata Zest.

The car key in newspaper ad communicated ease of owning the car / gave a sense of ownership resulting in increased footfall at the dealerships.

Jo DekheWohDiwana

When Kajaria Ceramics launched their 3D range of tiles that offers depth in designs, they wanted newspaper readers to get a sense of those innovative tiles.

The print ad was a 3D rendered image. The ad came with specially made 3D glasses stuck on the ad for viewing the ad. When viewed through 3D glasses, the ad gave a near real life 3D experience in the print ad itself.

Layered Smartphonewith a Layered Print Ad

When Lenovo launched Vibe X2 as ‘World’s First Layered Smartphone’, they wanted to highlight the innovative layered design through print ad.

Lenovo partnered with Voconow to overlay an interactive digital layer on top of their print ad.

When customers viewed the ad through Voconow app, they could see the smartphone from different dimensions, range of colors, product specs and could even buy the smartphone while watching the ad (instant call to action).

Does every print ad need to be as innovative as in above examples? Shashi Sinha of IPG MediaBrandssums it up nicely, “While regular print advertising definitely has its place, innovations deliver when there's a deeper message to be conveyed.”

Innovative, solution-led print advertisementsengage customerswith the brand and drive last mile conversions.

About the author

Anand Kulkarni is the founder of Voconow ( – a Pune based mobile ad-tech company. He is passionate about advertising in all forms and shapes. At times, he also reads news articles in newspapers.