Create Great Print Ads And The Rest Will Follow. Maybe.

As a copywriter in an ad agency that does as much digital work as traditional, I’m acutely aware of the need for multi-faceted writing and ideas that work across media.
But as an instructor at Portfolio Center, I’m faced with teaching beginning ad students the fundamentals of concepting and writing. And I find that if students can’t concept a decent print ad, there’s a good chance they’ll struggle with the more engaging tactics.
So it’s refreshing to see Jim Haven of Creature talk about the need for great print in portfolios in his column on Talent Zoo today, entitled “Hire Creatives Who Can Make a Great Print Ad.”

As we create more progressive campaigns and solve problems with the nearly limitless tools we have, I want to make sure we adhere to the craft that was so vitally important to advertising in the past. More importantly, smart ideas can be extended, pushed-out, and choreographed. It kind of goes back to what Rich Silverstein said to me when I was interviewing at Goodby. I told him while I was excited to learn how to make TV spots, I didn’t have any and that concerned me. I know that seems a stupid thing to say for someone trying to get a job. He pointed out a couple of my print ads and said, “These print ads are TV spots.” I guess I look at work in that same way. Thanks Rich. A good print ad or TV spot should be a good interactive idea.

There’s another reason to look at and hire people who do great traditional work. There are multitudes of talented creatives out there who don’t work at places or on pieces of business that push boundaries or with clients who want new ways of solving problems. And I don’t mind that at all. Because as long as those creatives can do a print ad or TV spot that has the right idea, we can help them make it into whatever it needs to be to solve the business problem. We like to squeeze the most out of any idea at Creature. An interactive idea might be a good TV spot. Could a print ad be a play? Could an email be a movie, too? A campaign starts where the idea is the purest. There’s still nothing wrong with that idea just being a headline. It just better be really good.

Unfortunately, Jim’s in the minority of creative recruiters and hiring managers these days. People are obsessed with digital and that’s not going to change. So today’s aspiring creatives will focus less on print, and naturally won’t learn to do it as well as they could. I liken Jim’s perspective to what Luke Sullivan wrote about radio earlier this year. If no one reads or appreciates great print when looking through a book, what’s the point?



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.