RIP News Release
Originally uploaded by prblog

The Caxton Awards is a long running program that recognises excellence in newspaper advertising here in Australia. Supported by the major metropolitan newspapers, awards are spread across 20 categories that range from "automotive" and "fashion" through to "best copywriting" and "best campaign".

This year, the judges refused to nominate a winner in twenty categories, reports Lara Sinclair in The Australian. It raises an interesting question … where has the talent gone? The focus?

While I agree with Tony Hale, CEO of the industry body, The Newspaper Works, who said "Ordinary creative compromises the effectiveness of our business", I am wondering whether the explosion of digital has distracted agencies from the lucrative and challenging news space. Given that there is a slow, but industry-wide move away from the traditional media channels, there are at least two opportunities arising in news and magazine advertising:

  • Creative thinking and strategy: Facing mediocre competition, clever creative will stand out. The opportunity here is to produce work that will play to the strengths of the printed medium.
  • Storytelling: The chance to take advantage of longer form storytelling should not be overlooked. While we spend increasingly large amounts of our free and fragmented time online, newspapers and magazines can still draw us in, but only if the story is good and the narrative is strong.

While I believe that digital is the future, I am also of the belief that newspapers and magazines will continue to serve a purpose. This purpose is now shifting and needs ongoing redefinition. But this cannot be done by the publishers alone … it needs the collective thinking of the whole industry — it needs collaboration and reinvention. Only then will the newspaper advertising rise from the dead.