Print versus Digital- It’s All In The Mind

Theatre Royal Winchester brochure cover
Theatre Royal Winchester season brochure

If you’d asked us ten years ago, we marketing folk would probably have said that our season brochures and postal mailshots were on their way out. More and more people were getting digitally connected, websites were well established and getting faster, emails were all but ubiquitous. We couldn’t be blamed for thinking our print would be going the way of paper order forms and letterheads.

Yet here we are and our print is still going strong. This despite the fact that over 50% of the population have constant access to the internet via smartphones and tablets. At Theatre Royal Winchester, which I market, questionnaires, filled in by about half our customers, tell us the season brochure is still the number one source for their decision to buy a ticket, it can be as high as 60% of customers in the case of a play.

Digital has undoubtedly had an impact. The website is the second most mentioned of our marketing tools. E-shots are now the third best way of selling individual shows.

So why does print maintain such a hold in our digital world? There are some practicalities. Brochures are usually easier to navigate than websites, try as we may to tailor the UX to the visitors’ needs. You can flip through, dip in, and hang on to it through the season. But there’s more to it than that. Research suggests our brains may be wired for print.

Take this study sponsored by Canada Post and carried out by True Impact Marketing1. It found Direct Mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than Digital Media, meaning that it is both easier to understand and more memorable. Print created 20% higher motivation to act than digital. The ratio of these two factors means print is much more likely to lead to consumer action.

More than that, the impact lasted longer- recall of the brand was 70% higher for direct mail than digital. And print gets its message across more quickly.

In a study from Temple University2 using brain scans, physical did better than digital on the time a customer spent on an ad, the emotional reaction, how quickly and confidently they remembered it, how much they subconsciously wanted it and valued it. Digital only scored better on focusing attention on key elements. Other factors like the amount of information processed, how accurately they remembered it and how willing they were to purchase were even-stevens.

This could be the clincher. The ventral striatum area of the brain was activated more by print advertising than digital media, indicating that the former was more successful than the latter at create desire and a sense of value.

Brain scans were also used in a case study by Millward Brown in collaboration with Bangor University3. It found ‘physical material is more “real” to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with its spatial memory networks.’  ‘Physical material involves more emotional processing, which is important for memory and brand associations.’ ‘Physical materials produced more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of the ads.’

Two more studies show the power of print. One found that comprehension is higher when people read print4. The other showed that digital readers browse and scan and don’t pay sustained attention5.

Even though print may be a better marketing tool than digital in oh-so-many ways, digital comes into its own when you compare cost. You may not sell so many tickets per e-shot as per mailshot but you can send out thousands of them for the cost of a handful of letters. So I find it’s best to hit customers first with an email and, only if they don’t respond, send a mailshot, and even then only to the best prospects.

The power of print means your season brochure should be your strongest marketing tool. Direct mail selling individual shows may fall down on the ROI but, in one piece of print, a brochure can cover dozens of products, thus spreading the cost and maximizing ROI.

1 Canada Post / True Impact Marketing, Understanding the Impact of Physical Communications through Neuroscience, February 2015

2Predicting Advertising Success Beyond Traditional Measures: New Insights from Neurophysiological Methods and Market Response Modeling. Journal of Marketing Research, August 2015

3Using Neuroscience to understand the role of Direct Mail. Millward Brown

4Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, Vol 58, 013, Pages 61–68

5Ziming Liu, (2005) “Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years”, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 61 Issue 6, pp.700 – 712

Adele’s Audacious Advert

It’s not just Adele fans who were excited by a 30 second TV ad. The whole world of advertising is talking about it. The idea of a teaser isn’t new but the audacity of running an ad with no name, no logo, not even a date is something unprecedented.

A teaser ad is meant to intrigue, to excite interest and that’s just what a black screen with white lyrics and an instantly recognisable singing voice did, but to what end?


It’s not just Adele fans who were excited by a 30 second TV ad. The whole world of advertising is talking about it.

The idea of a teaser isn’t new but the audacity of running an ad with no name, no logo, not even a date is something unprecedented.

A teaser ad is meant to intrigue, to excite interest and that’s just what a black screen with white lyrics and an instantly recognisable singing voice did, but to what end?

Has there been a more anticipated album since Sergeant Pepper? Rumours of a new Adele album have been floating around for years. Suddenly, with no hint, no guest appearance on X Factor or Graham Norton, no John Lewis or M&S style ‘watch tonight’ announcement, there it is. Only a fragment but that makes it even more like the tantalising glimpse of something in the undergrowth in Jurassic Park or when lightning flashes and a face is briefly revealed.

Only a major brand can get away with a teaser that doesn’t name the product. Apple may drop hints about their latest innovation but we know it’s an iPhone. A big show like Les Miserables can take small ads in the press with just the Cosette face, but there’ll still be a venue mentioned. The new James Bond may offer snatched scenes but there’s a release date at the end.

With a good teaser, you know enough about the product to feel part of a secret. It’s like a reward for loyal customers and loyalty is the ultimate aim of business marketing.

Adele’s marketing team went one further. We didn’t know the name of the album. We didn’t know the release date. We shared in an earlier stage than any of that. So in a sense it wasn’t even an advertisement. Instead it’s as if she said ‘I just wanted to let you who are loyal to me hear a bit of my new album.’ We recognised her voice so it made us insiders. That meant we had to talk about it. We couldn’t wait to know more. We had to pre-order the album. Because that’s how you repay loyalty.

A version of this article appeared on the Daily Echo website. Follow Paul on Twitter

The Don Draper Guide To Marketing

With Mad Men back on our screens, let’s look back at TV’s greatest drama and see what gems of wisdom we can apply to our own marketing.

Mad Men tells the story of some New York advertising people and their partners in the 1960s. Their business is a success but their personal lives are disastrous. Top of the pile is Don Draper, suave, sophisticated, fake- a man who has made his way to the top through a combination of huge natural talent and dogged self interest. Other protagonists include his business partners Roger Sterling and Pete Campbell, both in advertising because of their inherited money and connections.

Much of the tension in their advertising agency is the same as can be found in any office- the war of attrition between the creative entrepreneurial types and those who want to run a steady business. Both Roger and Pete recognise that they need Don’s creativity. “That is a very sensitive piece of horseflesh. He shouldn’t be rattled!” says Pete.

In fact their appreciation of him is in inverse proportion to his contempt for them, even though businesses need people who have the ability to attract and schmooze clients. Don is a loner whose arrogance about his creative work and inability to be a team player mean he could never be a successful leader.

They may recognise his genius but neither Roger nor Pete actually understand what Don does. Roger says to him, “I can never get used to the fact that most of the time it looks like you’re doing nothing.” In Pete’s eyes, advertising is “all about what it looks like” which reflects the common view that marketing is a lie dressed up in tinsel.

Living Like There’s No Tomorrow

When Don reached his inevitable breakdown in Mad Men, the more traditional businesspeople in the company couldn’t wait to take advantage and get rid of him. The sort of mavericks who inspire customers and clients often have to watch their backs when the safety-first bean counters move in. Perhaps the most famous example in the real business world is the time Apple fired Steve Jobs.

What makes Don a success in advertising? He has learnt what makes human beings tick. However the way he learned it- as a child brought up in a brothel- has made him cynical about life. This cynicism seems to be the key to his character. “There is no big lie. There is no system. The universe is indifferent,” he proclaims. “You’re born alone and you die alone, and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, ’cause there isn’t one,” he explains on a different occasion. To underline the point, “It’s your life – you don’t know where it’s going but you know it ends badly.”

What makes Don’s character so interesting is that his cynicism is tinged with a sadness that comes from the disappointment of knowing what life could be like in an ideal world, a theme that goes back to Adam and Eve gaining knowledge at the loss of Eden. He remains true to himself and tries to be honourable despite his view of the world.

This existential view of life grew rapidly in the fifties and sixties and is now probably the dominant view, whether conscious or not, of people in Western society. The older Roger Sterling, with his humorous quips in every situation, is even more cynical than Don but more amoral, with no time for Don’s angst ridden philosophy, “Your kind with your gloomy thoughts and your worries, you’re all busy licking some imaginary wound.”

The Greatest Thing You Have Working For You

Regarding advertising, Don may be supremely cynical but his insights are invaluable to anyone wanting to market their business. For Don, exploiting the need for something lost or missing is key. His famous description of the Kodak photo slide carousel hinges on nostalgia, namely the need for “a place where we know we are loved.”

Similarly, he observes that teenagers are “mourning for their childhood more than they’re anticipating their future, because they don’t know it yet, but they don’t want to die.”

Conversely, he opines, “The most important idea in advertising is ‘new’. It creates an itch. You simply put your product in there as a kind of calamine lotion.” The link between these apparently contradictory needs is in Don’s comment, “We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.”

“What is happiness?” he asks rhetorically. “It’s a moment before you need more happiness.” He makes people seem pretty desperate in their existential world. It’s a matter of opinion whether, as Don believes, “People want to be told what to do so badly that they’ll listen to anyone.”

Taking the polar opposite view to Pete’s on the nature of advertising, Don says, “The greatest thing you have working for you is not the photo you take or the picture you paint: it’s the imagination of the consumer. They have no budget, they have no time limit, and if you can get into that space, your ad can run all day.” This could be the mantra of any of us in marketing.

How does Don get into that space? He tells a story. His ex-wife Betty calls him a “gifted storyteller.” Anyone who wants to succeed in business needs to tell a compelling story that engages the customer. Don uses his skill just as much when pitching to clients. And of course he uses it as a weapon when seducing women, where he adds to his armoury good looks and sharp suits.

Being With A Client Is Like Being In A Marriage

Don’s cynicism extends to his love life in Mad Men. “What you call love was invented by guys like me… to sell nylons.” Other characters disagree. Joan Holloway says, “I want love, and I’d rather die hoping that happens than make some arrangement.” Then again, she’s a manager, not a creative.

Having said that, it is clear that Don needs love and even realises it, it’s just that his cynicism prevents him giving of himself in the way that’s necessary in order to receive it. Anna Draper makes an insightful comment on Don’s character, “The only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone.”

Instead he either manipulates the women he seduces or indulges in shallow sexual encounters. Although his relationships end because of his constant yearning for something different, he always feels the guilt and regret of someone with human feelings.

His inability to sacrifice himself, even in his own self interest, makes him liable to betray his women and his colleagues. Despite his need for connection, he is neither a team player nor a good husband. One of Don’s qualities as a hero is his unwillingness to compromise but this is not a good trait in relationships, whether business or personal. At one stage in Mad Men, he loses the agency an account worth $1 million by telling the truth.

The inevitable failure of Don Draper’s personal relationships in Mad Men reflects a view expressed more than once about clients. Roger observes wryly, “Being with a client is like being in a marriage. Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons, and eventually they hit you in the face.” Don himself comments, “The day you sign a client is the day you start losing him.” An experience with which all businesspeople will be familiar.

Don has one relationship that endures despite some rocky moments- Peggy Olson, his workplace colleague and protégé. He says to her, “The way that [people] saw themselves is gone. And nobody understands that. But you do. And that’s very valuable.”

How many times have businesspeople felt they have more in common with a work colleague than their spouse? Of course, in Don’s case, he marries his secretary and that works out as badly for him, as does pretty much everything else this flawed genius touches in his personal life.

Don Draper’s complexity makes him one of the most interesting characters ever to appear in a TV drama. He is both admirable and disgusting, honest and deceitful, honourable and disloyal. Ultimately he is a flawed hero, which may be the best we can aspire to be in the modern business world.

I hope he finds peace but I fear that it will ‘end badly’ for him.

Mad Men can be seen on Sky Atlantic on Thursdays at 10pm.

This blog was written by Paul Lewis, owner of the Winchester based marketing consultancy Seven Experience. You can connect with him on Google+ and LinkedIn

Shaken Not Stirred- New Sponsors Remind Me Of 007’s Original Drink

James Bond 007 ordered his first martini back in 1953 in the novel Casino Royale. So, was it the traditional gin martini or a more modern vodka version?

Belvedere Vodka have sponsored the new James Bond film Spectre
The name is Belvedere

It’s a great marketing coup when a new sponsor makes the front pages and the feature pages but Belvedere Vodka did just that when they announced their involvement in the next James Bond film Spectre. Not least among the coverage were the mentions of the first martini James Bond ever ordered. It was back in 1953 in the novel Casino Royale. So, was it the traditional gin martini or a more modern vodka version? The answer is ‘both’.

“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

It’s an original recipe and Bond even gives it a name. The Vesper. So named because it is to be drunk at Vespers, in other words sunset.

Being a martini lover, I had to try it. This proved to be problematic. Kina Lillet doesn’t exist any more, and both vodka and Gordon’s Gin are weaker than in 1953. Cocchi Americano is said to be the nearest to Kina Lillet but I couldn’t get hold of any so I substituted a vermouth since that’s the usual ingredient of a martini. I could have searched for a stronger vodka or the extra strength Gordon’s Export but instead I went for Absolut and standard Gordon’s on the basis that, in Bond’s Vesper, shaking the ice had the effect of watering down the strong alcohol. Rather than shake, I stirred gently! To ensure the drink is ice cold, I keep my vodka in the freezer.

Belvedere VodkaWhy Absolut, not Belvedere? I love Belvedere vodka and I congratulate them on the success they’ve already had as 007’s sponsors. Interestingly Fleming, who pioneered the naming of brands to add authenticity and a touch of glamour to his novels, doesn’t name a vodka. To him it is clearly simply a way of diluting the flavour of the gin without diluting the alcohol content.

How times have changed. In the last couple of decades, brands of vodka have proliferated. However Belvedere is a premium product, a quadruple distilled rye grain vodka whose beautiful flavour is best enjoyed unadulterated.  So I chose Absolut because, in my opinion, it’s the finest wheat vodka in the standard price range.

I found the proportions of three to one in favour of the gin too much for my taste and preferred the subtler effect of equal measures of vodka and gin. The small amount of the vermouth was right, though, making the martini nicely dry. My vermouth of choice is Noilly Prat. To get the driest martini, put the vermouth in, swirl it round the glass (or rub it round with your finger) and pour any excess away.

The lemon is right for the finishing touch and much better than the vulgar olive. It’s best if you take the thin peel and squeeze it to bring out the oil.

After drinking my Vesper, all I needed was a dinner jacket and a Walther PPK and I was ready for Spectre.

A version of this article has appeared on the Daily Echo website.

Some changes were made on 11 March 2015 to the fifth and sixth paragraphs regarding the anonymity of the vodka.


White Stuff Lives Up To Its Name

To provide a catalogue with nothing but white faces, as White Stuff have done, is offensive to those customers who oppose discrimination and to those who are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

White Stuff catalogue

Every face in White Stuff ‘s 108 page winter catalogue belongs to a white person- and, at a glance, every face on their website. Are they really saying people from ethnic minorities do not form part of their market? Do they really think their clothes look best against white skin? I doubt that.

Much more likely is that they’ve just not thought it through. I don’t think for a moment that the owners of White Stuff or their art director or their photographer made a deliberate decision not to use any black models but the fact is, no-one along the way to the printing of this catalogue spotted this gross omission or, if they did, they didn’t think it was worth doing anything about.

It’s most likely a simple lack of thought about the implications of only featuring white people. (White Stuff’s catalogue also didn’t feature older or physically disabled people, so we can be fairly sure there is no conscious effort in the company to bring about positive change in society.)

This whiteness that dominates the fashion industry is insidious. It creates a norm in our minds. Even if fashion leaders are not being deliberately racist, catalogues and cat walks say our society is white and that white is to be aspired to.  So it reinforces unconscious bias. That’s bad for our society.

And it’s bad marketing. To provide a catalogue with nothing but white faces is potentially offensive to all those customers who oppose discrimination and to the 13% of the population who are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Display at Debenhams
A display at Debenhams

White Stuff are far from alone. Look at any number of high street catalogues and websites and you’ll find a sea of white faces. I’ve read that top black models Jourdan Dunn, Chanel Iman and Joan Smalls have all complained about occasions when photographers preferred white models or only picked a quota of non-white models. 

The Edit magazine described how ‘There were times when Dunn would be on her way to castings and told to turn back because the client “didn’t want any more black girls”. There was even one instance when a makeup artist announced on a shoot that she didn’t want to make-up Dunn’s face because she herself was white and Dunn was black.’ 

But it can be done. Step forward Debenhams. All it takes is a little thought.

Here’s a tip for White Face, sorry White Stuff. Whether you’re writing copy or creating visual images, get your work double checked by fresh eyes from outside the company. It helps avoid unintended messages.