Where do brands go in a crisis? To print, of course

What do Facebook and KFC have in common? They both turned to print in a crisis. Here, Snap printing CEO Peter Sinodinos unpicks why a more traditional approach is often utilised in times of need.

The decline in print advertising spend has been well documented, and 2017 was a particularly bad year for newspaper and magazine bookings – according to recent Standard Media Index (SMI) figures, media agency spend fell 22.3% across newspapers and 20.8% across magazines.

This is a trend that’s been evident for some time – print advertising spend was $367.1m in the final quarter of 2017, down from $433m in the final quarter of 2016.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Print still can make an impact, and we are increasingly seeing big brands choose traditional media over online outlets when they are looking to get a sincere message out there.

KFC and crisis management

Just look at fast-food franchise KFC and its reaction to the chicken shortage that forced a number of its UK restaurants to close. Taking out a full-page advert in the Metro – a free newspaper that’s distributed across the country – the brand managed to apologise with good humour.

Underneath an image of an empty bucket, brandishing the letters ‘FCK’ instead of the usual ‘KFC’, the company wrote: “A chicken shop without any chicken. It’s not ideal.” And went on to honestly explain the situation, which was attributed to “operational issues”. The result? A social media sensation, in which the brand was praised for its creativity and honesty.

Facebook’s full-page newspaper adverts

Mark Zuckerberg went down a similar route in the midst of the ongoing Cambridge Analytics data privacy scandal, with Facebook taking out full-page ads in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and a number of other US and UK newspapers in order to clarify the situation and the steps the company was taking to secure information gathered by the platform.

Perhaps most interestingly, the social network’s chief executive had already published a post on Facebook addressing the situation, but this had failed to resonate with a growing number of angry users. And so, the owner of the digital giant turned to print publications to make his point.

How print can be personal  

What can we learn from all of this? That, despite the runaway success of social media, online new sites and digital advertising, print continues to be regarded as a credible and trustworthy source of information.

And while the internet attracts billions of dollars in advertising revenue each year, print offers an opportunity to cut through online clutter and present a brand’s comments clearly and concisely.

Never doubt the power of print and the lasting impact it can have.

Peter Sinodinos is CEO of Snap printing, websites and design.


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