Remember the New Year of 1999 when, instead of waiting for a midnight kiss, we all counted down to what many truly believed was going to be the end of computer technology as we knew it? But the Y2K bug never reared it’s ugly head and life went on.

This is a bit like the situation in printed marketing. Advertising went online and the world stood back and waited for paper to spontaneously combust in a fit of pique, unable to survive in the digital age. Yet, it too never quite happened. In fact, we’re now starting to see a contradictory trend; global expenditure for printed advertising is on the rise for the first time in 8 years.

Print will never die

No one can deny that in the throes of our virtual revolution, printed media has suffered and been forced to adapt. As the way adverts are displayed changes, so does the way they are viewed. Online audiences have new powers of control when it comes to allowing adverts to reach them; Ad blockers enable users to shut out almost all online adverts, depleting the effectiveness of many campaigns.

Ad blocking is causing digital advertisers to reconsider how they get their message and product across to their audience, especially since they are now being made readily available on iPhone iOS 9, among other devices. Maybe this has contributed to the increase in printed advertising?

At the forefront of printed marketing campaigns are four industries who continue to reap rewards of success from printed advertising. Demonstrating the enduring power of posters, magazines and brand booklets are the four F’s: Fashion, Food, Finance and …Pharmaceuticals? (Close enough.)


Advertising healthcare products and services are something usually associated with America, due to the competitive nature of private medical companies. Pharmaceutical brands spend billions of dollars on their direct to consumer campaigns and they continue to invest heavily in print.

In 2015, medical adverts in printed journals and publications rose by 7.9% and, as overall spending on printed journals increases, there is every reason to believe that advertising through these printed platforms will also continue to rise.

Outside of the US, other pharmaceutical companies show no signs of giving up on printed marketing. Although trust in television advertising has reached giddy new heights, the same trust has not yet been transferred online.

With an aging global population, (usually who healthcare companies are targeting) who are more familiar with printed medical advice, tangible platforms are still considered the most trustworthy platform.

Off line: In Fashion

Fashion rules the roost in printed advertising. Expensive glossy magazines are more of a status symbol than ever. An inextricable part of the fashion industry, not only do they dictate our impression of the reader but also of the products within. Advertising online is seen to be detrimental to brand image for many of these high-end luxury goods. It’s just not in.

Inside top magazines budgets are still stunningly high. In 2015, a study into print advertising across 20 fashion publications showed that the top 9 had seen a 15% increase in advertising expenditure compared to the previous year.

For these couture brands though, the investment is worth it. A double page spread, for example, commands and holds attention for much longer than an online equivalent, which is too easily scrolled over in a single second.

A good magazine advert, on the other hand,  will also have much more longevity than something produced for digital platforms. Magazines are printed knowing that many of the carefully constructed pages will be immortalized on bedroom walls all over the world.

Sustaining the food industry

There was not a single dry mouth in the house after Waitrose released those drool inducing Christmas adverts in 2014. Drinks photography and print provided a way to stand out from the hoards of other higher-end-of-high-street food stores.

It was a huge success, as featured in The Sunday Times and The Telegraph, it reached middle-class meal-planning parents and hosts – exactly who it was intended for.

Targeting consumers is something that digital campaigns are getting much better at doing. By analyzing the searches and pages you explore online, the appropriate stream of adverts are sent your way, but this filter is still not enough to prevent users from putting up those ad blocker walls.

A magazine or newspaper, on the other hand, has already cornered your target market and they are therefore more likely to pay attention to your product and embrace the brand.

For companies such as Waitrose and John Lewis, print remains one of the most important advertising mediums. Waitrose has the largest investment in print of all its competitors, for them no other channel achieves such good ROI.

They share a creative agency, both companies believing print enables them to “tell a richer story” through the production of their own newspapers and magazines. Through print, recipes can be shared and kept, again ensuring longevity and helping to secure the company’s position as a family brand for current and future generations.

Save financial face

Any interaction involving money involves a high level of trust. A blow to the economy can severely set back the relationship between financial services and their clients.

These are services we all need, so preserving this relationship is important to absolutely everybody – it’s what stops us withdrawing all our money, stuffing it in our mattresses and watching the world crumble.

When we did go through a rough patch, culminating in the 2009 global financial crisis, one bank in particular was commended for its innovative way of reestablishing trust through its marketing campaign. Halifax used print as a way of going back to basics, separating itself from other banks in an attempt to rekindle customer trust.

It worked. By 2012 this trust was fully aflame, leading them to become the first brand to have a half page cover wrap on the front of the Guardian. Securing such a major position enabled Halifax to tap into the strong bond between paper and reader, further enhancing their brand image.

Businesses in the financial sector benefit from print for a number of reasons besides trust. In a sector which runs on numbers, adverts are all that’s needed to flash up competitive rates and offers.

Information is conveyed quickly, absorbed easily and can be kept and referred back to for extended periods of time. If we see it displayed by a platform we regard as well informed and reliable even once, it has a lasting impression which transfers through to other mediums, such as tv or radio broadcasts.