By Noel Jeffrey
For generations printing industry leaders have been mulling over consumer messaging as a way to increase business. The old “Got Milk?” campaign was an oft cited example to be imitated. Until now, the idea never advanced beyond the talking stages—no funding. This summer it becomes a reality thanks to an entity known as the Paper & Packaging Board (P+PB) and a government assisted program known as a “Check-off.”
Authorized by federal legislation, a Check-off is designed to maintain and expand markets for an industry’s products. Check-offs are governed by an Order that sets the parameters of the program and are run by an industry nominated board of directors appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. While program funds may not be used for lobbying or advocacy, they are available for informational, educational and promotional activities in support of an industry’s products. The money comes from the industry itself, not the government.
The Paper and Packaging Board (www.paperandpackaging.org) is running the Paper Check-off. It brings together the paper and paper-based packaging sectors to promote and increase consumer appreciation for paper and paper-based packaging, reduce guilt about using these products and deepen understanding of the industry’s environmentally–friendly practices.
In the distant past, no one questioned the value of print on paper for communication or paper packaging for products. The digital revolution plus misguided environmental messaging known as greenwashing has changed all that.
Back in the early 1990s, Benny Landa, father of the Indigo press and now a Nanographic pioneer, used to start all his press conferences with, “Everything that can become digital will become digital.” We’re still seeing how prescient he was.
- Digital communications like email, social media, videos and more have moved marketing budgets away from print.
- Ebooks have cut into the market for printed books.
- Consumer and trade magazine numbers have fallen dramatically and many have closed.
- Daily newspapers are shadows of their former selves.
- Online manuals and/or DVDs have replaced printed manuals for cars, software, camera, and most other consumer products.
- Online course materials have replaced training packets.
- Corporate entities urge their customers to accept electronic billing to save trees when what they want to save is postage and printing costs (greenwashing).
- Corporate entities urge employees and customers not to print out emails to save trees (greenwashing).
- School children are urged to promote “Do Not Mail” campaigns to save trees (greenwashing).
These factors plus others have changed the situation from one of needing to advertise to grow business to the dire reality of needing to advertise to remain viable businesses. Hence, the paper companies are willing to assess themselves to fill a promotional funds war chest.
“P+PB is administering the “Paper Check-off” revenue from the assessment levied on a variety of paper, including: printing, writing and related paper; kraft packaging paper; containerboard; and paperboard. This will be the first year we begin to see advertising targeting consumers ala the “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign. Although the $30+ million raised by the “check-off” seems like a lot of money, it’s paltry in comparison to the $200 million raised by the Beef Council,” writes Joe Polanco, President of PIA MidAmerica. (The assessment of 35 cents per short ton on printing and writing, containerboard, paperboard and Kraft paper began on March 1, 2014.)
Per Mary Anne Hansan, the organization’s executive director, over the past year P+PB has conducted market research to help the organization target the message. Starting this summer, we’ll begin to see the fruition of years of planning, to shine a positive light on the paper and print industry. It will focus on consumers, emphasizing both the personal and environmental benefits of paper and paper-based packaging products.
Among the points to be made are:
- How good, useful the products are.
- The roles they play in people’s lives.
- The important role they play as a compliment to a digital platform.
Paper and Packaging Board (P+PB) has selected Cramer-Krasselt in Milwaukee to shepherd this first national marketing campaign. The consumer-focused campaign will promote product benefits and include advertising, social media and public relations components.
“We picked Cramer-Krasselt for their ability to come up with a “big idea” and to translate that idea into a well-integrated campaign that delivers results,” says Hansan. “They are deep, strategic thinkers with the right blend of capabilities.”
“The consumer ads will also compliment Choose Print, Guide, PrintAccess, Storyboard and everything else we do,” says Dan Nelson, President of VMA, the PIA affiliate in Northern California and northern Nevada.
The printing industry itself has not been idle in its own offense and defense in the past few years but has largely focused on potential customers within the graphics industry. Some efforts focus on how well print “plays” with other media. Following are examples.
Storyboard, sponsored by San Francisco-headquartered Visual Media Alliance (www.vmastoryboard.com), is a new approach to covering the creative world across all media. In recent years the walls that have separated the print and digital worlds have crumbled, with more and more communications professionals compelled to take a broader, more holistic approach to “getting the message out.” The print focused are experimenting with augmented reality, apps and special online content, and the Web-savvy are rediscovering the attention-getting qualities of print. Both have a great deal to learn from each other. There is a website rich in case studies and more plus a quarterly magazine.
Print in the Mix (http://printinthemix.com) is a clearinghouse of curated third-party research demonstrating the effectiveness of print, web, mobile, social media and other formats in the cross-media communications value chain. Its mission is to advocate and educate for the value of print as a viable and effective ROI in the marketing strategy media mix—alone and working synergistically with other media to drive results. Print in the Mix was created in 2007 with a grant from The Print Council and is housed at Rochester Institute of Technology and published by the School of Media Sciences Cross-Media Innovation Center.
The Choose Print campaign, initiated by Printing Industries of Southern California (http://chooseprint.org) is an educational campaign designed to promote the effectiveness of print and to reinforce the fact that print on paper is a recyclable and renewable and thus a sustainable environmental choice. First launched in January 2011, the Choose Print campaign has used a variety of online and offline tools to get the message out. At the hub is its website, which acts as a clearinghouse to bring together recent research and links to credible websites that tell the story about the marketing power and environmental record of print.
Two Sides, launched in 2012, is a global initiative by companies from the Graphic Communications Industry including forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, prepress, press, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and postal operators. Their common goal is to promote the sustainability of the Graphics Communications Industry and dispel common environmental misconceptions by providing users with verifiable information on why Print and Paper is an attractive, practical and sustainable communications medium.