by Samantha Cook
on 31 May 2012
Show me a magazine rack or a stack of newspapers and I will be able to almost immediately pick out the ‘tabloid’ publications from the bunch. Why? Because tabloid magazines and newspapers have a very specific design and editorial style that is visible from the first glance.
While reflecting on my editorial desk article for this week, where I suggested that it may be beneficial for tabloids to update their design style in order to step away from the visual stereotypes and what is often seen as low-quality design, I realised that there are in fact valid arguments both for change and for retaining the status quo.
While print publications have a very specific function within the media landscape, they also obviously exist as brands in their own right. In the case of tabloids, the relationship with readers is perhaps treasured over everything else – as Richard McNeill, consultant for the Daily Sun says, “We’ve established the kind of relationship with our readers where they bring us these stories; people call us, they don’t call the Sowetan or The Times. We try not to talk down to them, we try to put news in simple English so that readers can better understand things and they reward us with record sales>.” These ‘record sales’ are nothing to be sniffed at either – the Daily Sun is arguably South Africa’s most popular newspaper.
With such an established presence, it is understandable why tabloids would be hesitant to attempt a dramatic redesign – humans are visual creatures, and we form mental associations with shapes and styles that we recognise. It would be unthinkable for a brand like Nike to undergo a redesign at this stage in the game and, in the same way, it doesn’t seem to make sense that an established tabloid publication would even consider it.
However, there is also a lot to be said for changing things up, and with the issue of the younger generation moving from traditional media streams to online platforms, there is perhaps a need for a fresh approach to generate interest and excitement.
What are your thoughts? Should tabloid design be refreshed, or is this a case of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’?
by Melanie Heyns
on 29 May 2012
In my editorial desk article this week, I wrote about friendly and helpful staff within the retail industry and the effect this has on a brand’s reputation. As much as I do feel members of staff within this industry need to be pleasant to deal with, in the same breath I also feel that customers need to treat retail employees with a bit more decency.
As I explained in my article, I worked as a cashier during my student years and it was during these years that I met and spoke to all kinds of people. There were of course the grumpy and down right rude people who would treat you like rubbish. One customer accused me of being incompetent when his credit card was declined. I therefore urge you, to please read all the writing on the card machine slip, because when the slip says ‘insufficient funds’, it means you have no money in your account, not that the cashier does not know how to do their job.
There were also those individuals who were surprised if not shocked when I answered their question of “So do you work here full- time?” with “No, I’m studying towards a degree in journalism.” Just because some one sits behind a till and swipes your card, does not mean they are stupid.
I understand why some cashiers are the way they are: almost every second person is rude, unpleasant or treats you like an idiot. I therefore have a few words for fellow customers: the next time you are in the shops and you treat the cashier with no courtesy, think again. They deserve just as much respect as you do and who knows, maybe if you smile and be polite they will bounce your positive attitude back to you and enhance the overall experience. How do you treat people within the retail industry? Leave your comments below.
by Christine Greyvenstein
on 28 May 2012
It’s become a social trend to buy products that are labeled as ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘sustainable’. Even though many might stop doing this when it’s not considered as the in thing to be green anymore, I still believe that any support for a sustainable future makes a difference. It just saddens me that so many products on the supermarkets’ shelves claim to be making an impact when it’s clearly only a marketing scam. And that in my books is a million times worse than people pretending to support a greener future.
A former colleague once attended a conference on the subject of environmental sustainability and in her report back, she mentioned that companies that put their marketing departments in charge of dealing with green projects are more likely to participate in greenwashing.
Going green shouldn’t be about making money, it should be about making sure that future generations have oxygen, plants and animals. So if it’s about making money, those funds should be targeted at sustainable energy research. What is your opinion on the subject of greenwashing? Leave your comments below.
by Darren Gilbert
on 24 May 2012
In my editorial desk article this week, I wrote about the need for brands to consider contextual advertising as a valid route to reaching the right audience. While it’s not meant to be a silver bullet for the ad space that is online, it can pave the way towards better understanding and less fear around using the medium to feature your brand. Here’s a look at two brands who implemented such strategies successfully as well as one instance of how it can all go wrong.
For Machine Agency group creative director Jake Bester, one doesn’t have to look any further than a campaign that was run by the British phone company, Orange. At the 2009 Glastonbury Festival, Orange pitched the Solar Concept Tent idea. To avoid festival goers losing their tent in the dark, each would be fitted with “glo-cation” technology. This technology worked by enabling campers’ mobile phones to identify their tent using either an SMS message or automatic active RFID technology and, in so doing, triggered a glow that would help identify it from a distance.
And, as Bester pointed out, “it worked well because it added value while remaining in the right context”. It’s an example which also points to the fact that contextual thinking is not simply a method that is using online but can be used with any platform. For Orange, it was mobile.
For the film Breaking Dawn, it was the internet. Instead of simply placing a relevant ad next to an editorial piece, it went that bit further by completely taking over Seventeen magazine’s website. And it looked good, according to HelloComputer’s strategic director Lieze Langford. “It was spot on ... because the right market had been targeted. With contextual [advertising], if you understand the users, and their behaviour, you’ll have a successful campaign.”
However, there is contextual advertising – or at least an attempt at it – that can go horribly wrong. If I mention YouTube, you will probably think of those ads that popped up every time you wait for a video to load. In short, they are poor attempts at reaching an audience. Bester points out: “I remember seeing a video on YouTube when suddenly this ad for an insurance company popped up. Having worked on their brand in the past, I understand that they’re normally very cautious [in the ad space]. And yet, here it was on this stupid homemade video. I just didn’t understand how it happened.”
It is most certainly difficult to understand. Contextual advertising is directly related to targeted advertising. It’s a message that is specifically directed. Can you think of other examples? Let us know below.
by Melanie Heyns
on 23 May 2012
For my editorial desk article this week, I focused on news organisations that have social networking accounts and how this may affect people visiting their original news sites. When I am standing in a queue at the grocery store or when I am stuck in traffic, I also turn to my Twitter feed and read the various news headlines.
It’s my way of keeping up to date with what is happening in and around the world. When I am sitting in front of my laptop at home or my computer at work though, it is a different story. In these cases, I will go straight to the various news sites and read the full articles. However, I don’t read each and every article – only those that grab my attention or have an intriguing headline.
I think having the news available on various social networks is both a good and a bad thing. It’s bad in the sense that the truth can be easily distorted and something that started as a joke can be taken as fact (think of all those celebrities who supposedly die every now and again). The good part of having the news available on social networking is the convenience. When reading people’s tweets or Facebook status updates, a news story will pop up and if it interests me, I will follow the link to the news site to read the full article.
What do you think of news organisations having social networking accounts? Do you now read more or less news articles as a result? Leave your comments below.