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Shockingly Good: The 5 most controversial marketing campaigns according to social media

 As women’s health brand Elvie recently ‘broke the internet’ with their provocative 2022 campaign normalising women’s incontinence in sport, print marketing and branding experts Solopress have investigated the top 5 campaigns of the last decade that stirred up the social sphere…

 Key Findings:

  • 94% of those surveyed by Always agree that their #LikeAGirl campaign encouraged girls to be more confident and 70% of women and 60% of men claimed that the video changed their perception of the phrase ‘like a girl’.
  • #LikeAGirl received over 1100 earned-media placements and 4.4 billion impressions in the first three months of launching the campaign with its positive sentiment reaching 96%.
  • Gillette’s #TheBestAManCanBe campaign earned 3 million views on YouTube, 203k retweets and 513.3k likes on Twitter and was received positively overall. It encouraged 65% more purchase intent.
  • Elvie’s Leaks Happen campaign stirred up conversations around the world regarding incontinence in women, with content attached to #LeaksHappen receiving 2.9 million views on TikTok.
  • Searches for ‘Elvie Trainer review’ have increased by 60% and searches for ‘Elvie Curve’ (two of the brand’s key products) have increased by 70% according to Google Trends since the campaign’s launch.
  • Weetabix’s Beanz on Bix campaign instantly blew up on social media, gaining 36.3k retweets, 68.8k quoted tweets and over 130k likes on Twitter.
  • KFC pursued print advertising with their ‘FCK’ advert which resulted in 700 press articles and TV discussions, reaching a combined audience of 797 million globally.

The world of marketing has graced us with countless unforgettable (albeit controversial) campaigns over the past decade spanning a range of industries, from fast food to male grooming and women’s health.

Recently, women’s health brand Elvie sparked a wide online response with their March 2022 billboard campaign. The unique out-of-home advert depicted a woman squatting and lifting weights complete with liquid to portray urination and raise awareness of women’s incontinence.

But which ‘controversial’ marketing campaigns broke through the noise and caught the public’s attention the most within the 2000s and how many garnered business success as a result?

Print marketing and branding experts Solopress have analysed the top 5 most controversial marketing campaigns according to social media to reveal which campaigns leveraged shock value to their advantage.

The 5 Most Controversial Marketing Campaigns of the Decade

  1. Always #LikeAGirl
  • 70million views on YouTube
  • 5million views on TikTok
  • 10,62 likes on Twitter
  • 814 retweets on Twitter
  1. Gillette #TheBestMenCanBe
  • 4million views on YouTube (via Guardian News)
  • 203k retweets on Twitter
  • 3k quoted tweets on Twitter
  • 3k likes on Twitter
  • 11,752 likes on Instagram
  • 1k likes on Facebook
  1. Elvie Leaks Happen
  • 3million views on TikTok
  • 9k views on YouTube
  1. Weetabix, Beanz on Bix
  • 3k retweets on Twitter
  • 8k quoted tweets on Twitter
  • 130k likes on Twitter
  • 1,839 likes on Instagram
  1. KFC FCK
  • Reached a global audience of 797 million
  • 814 likes on Twitter
  • 428 retweets on Twitter
  • 114 quoted tweets on Twitter
  • 700 press articles and TV discussions
  1. Always #LikeAGirl – 2015

Feminine hygiene brand Always’ unforgettable campaign #LikeAGirl managed to successfully subvert gender stereotypes and redefine what it means to do something ‘like a girl’.

With the aim of reconnecting with their young consumer base (16-24-year-olds) to ensure brand loyalty, Always’ short video advert depicts a casting call with young women, men, boys and girls being asked to pretend to run, fight and throw like a girl.

Whist women, men and boys chose to act out stereotypes and mock the way in which women would do these things, pre-pubescent girls provided a powerful response in that they pretended to complete these actions with pride and confidence.

The insight resonated with Always’ viewership, with 94% agreeing that the campaign has encouraged girls to be more confident and 70% of women and 60% of men claiming that the video changed their perception of the phrase ‘like a girl’.

Always received over 1100 earned-media placements and 4.4 billion impressions in the first three months of launching the now renowned campaign.

They did this by taking a derogatory phrase that supports the negative, misguided representation of women ‘not being good enough’ and making it a symbol of female empowerment via social media with the hashtag #LikeAGirl.

Positive sentiment also reached 96% within three months, purchase intent increased by more than 50% among the target audience and 177,000 #LikeAGirl tweets were posted including tweets from celebrities such as Gloria Steinem and George Takei as a result of the thought-provoking advert.

In terms of social reach and engagement, the initial video advert garnered over 70million views on YouTube and 8.7k views on Facebook, making it to Solopress’ top spot in the best controversial campaigns list.

This unique campaign, including a YouTube video advert, paid Facebook and Twitter posts, paid reach, and influencer outreach, demonstrates the benefit of harnessing brand values to encourage positive social change and ultimately helping specific audiences to feel both seen and supported.

#LikeAGirl still has relevancy today despite being released in 2015, with posts connected to the hashtag receiving 20.5million views on TikTok.

  1. Gillette #TheBestMenCanBe – 2019

Another provocative hashtag-led campaign that got thousands on social media talking was Gillette’s 2019 campaign #TheBestMenCanBe.

The video-based social media campaign was created in the wake of #MeToo and aimed to challenge traditional male stereotypes and encourage positive behaviour.

It disregarded the brand’s shaving products and instead addressed themes of toxic masculinity, misogyny and sexual harassment.

Gillette’s video showed various situations involving boys and men, from men making derogatory comments toward women to young boys fighting each other, intending to encourage others to make better choices.

The divisive advert sparked serious debate with some viewers applauding the brand’s stance on this social issue and others viewing the ad as an attack on men.

Among the negative responses was a tweet from Piers Morgan accusing the brand of virtue-signalling “I’ve used @Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity”.

Other responses saw the campaign as a catalyst for positive change with one Twitter user writing “Thank you, Gillette, for standing out and keeping the conversation going” and another stating “I don’t even use Gillette but I may start using it after this…great job, great message, great delivery.”

Although opinions were divided on the campaign, which immediately went viral and now has 3 million views on YouTube, overall, it seems that feedback was positive encouraging 65% more purchase intent.

The original post gained 203k retweets, 76.3k quoted tweets and a staggering 513.3k likes on Twitter, revealing how powerful brand campaigns that tackle social issues can be.

However, given the backlash received around a razor company attempting to virtue-signal, it’s important for brands to consider whether they have the authority to make comments in these areas and whether the end goal of the campaign justifies the means.

  1. Elvie – Leaks Happen 2022

Following the brand’s TikTok video of a woman squatting with weights and accidentally peeing being flagged by the platform as ‘graphic’, women’s health brand Elvie launched a 20ft ‘peeing’ billboard to confront the taboo of urinary incontinence and clap back at social media censorship around the widespread issue.

The brand found that 84% of women experience incontinence in the UK and 1 in 3 experience the issue globally which led to them encouraging women to speak out about the issue.

Featuring the Elvie Trainer product, the #LeaksHappen campaign showed a 28-year old mum of two, Megan Burns experiencing a leak whilst working out, represented by real water coming from the London-based billboard.

The brand aimed to empower and enable women to ‘achieve everything their bodies are capable of’.

Since the launch of the campaign, the brand’s behind the scenes video of installing the billboard has received 1.9k views and content attached to #LeaksHappen has received 3million views on TikTok.

In terms of marketing, the widespread discussion on the topic of urinary incontinence indicates success.

When it comes to business success, the efforts of the campaign proved to be hugely valuable with search popularity for ‘Elvie Trainer review’ increasing by 60% since the billboard’s launch according to Google Trends and search popularity for ‘Elvie Curve’, another product in the Elvie range, increasing by 70%.

This innovative, head-turning billboard and social media campaign is an excellent example of a brand creating a purpose-led campaign centred on an important women’s health issue relevant to their brand values and product offering.

The campaign utilised shock value to its advantage, thus creating a relevant, timely and impactful message that led to increased brand visibility.

The campaign also demonstrated the power of utilising physical branding such as out of home advertising in 2022 to make a powerful statement and bring your brand to the forefront.

  1. Weetabix Beanz on Bix – 2021

The infamous Weetabix Beanz on Bix campaign that achieved ‘meme’ status won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

The campaign unfolded with a viral image of a breakfast like no other; Weetabix covered in Heinz Baked Beans, much to the horror of social media users everywhere.

Playing on the typical ‘food inspo’ style of Weetabix posts but with a controversial twist, the social media campaign garnered a phenomenal response with an onslaught of other brands responding on Twitter.

Ford declared “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” with an image of beans all over the boot of a car.

Specsavers, who in typical fashion brought more humour to the Twittersphere by stating “If you can’t beat them, join them” accompanied by an image of two pairs of glasses covered in beans.

The saga continued with the NHS commenting “This tweet should come with a health warning” in response to the Weetabix image, indicating the widespread impact of the tongue in cheek campaign.

Weetabix’s original post on Twitter instantly blew up during what was a difficult time for many dealing with the repercussions of Covid-19, gaining 36.3k retweets, 68.8k quoted tweets and over 130k likes.

Additionally, the Instagram post of the questionable image gained 1,839 likes, demonstrating the level of engagement a simple creative campaign such as this can achieve.

The timeliness of the campaign was another factor that no doubt contributed to its success.

It came out six weeks into a national lockdown where audiences were looking for humour and comfort, emphasising the importance of appropriate timing when it comes to controversial campaigns.

  1. KFC FCK – 2018

This iconic print campaign from KFC covered a full-page ad in multiple news publications including Metro and The Sun in an attempt to apologise for their chicken shortage in February 2018 and mitigate damage to the brand.

The ad shows an empty chicken bucket with FCK replacing the KFC branding on the front, much to the appreciation of many social media users who loved the strategic humour.

The advert included an apology for the fact that hundreds of stores had to close throughout the UK as a result of issues with their new chicken supplier DHL.

Brandwatch data also revealed that on 21 February alone there were 53,000 mentions of KFC running out of chicken, associated with hashtags such as “#ChickenCrisis” and “#KFCCrisis”.

YouGov’s BrandIndex also revealed that KFC’s ‘buzz score’ measuring positive and negative sentiments dropped by20 points to -24.

However, the brand managed to avoid long term impacts, with purchase consideration metrics unchanged by the debacle.

KFC chose to pursue print advertising as they believed that this utilises higher trust metrics than social media.

The advert resulted in 700 press articles and TV discussions, reaching a combined audience of 797 million globally.

Within three months, 219 million social media users were also exposed to the branded image with the witty anagram, thus the campaign had achieved a reach of over one billion from its single print ad, leveraging only ‘humility, humour and honesty’.

In fact, the tweeted advert encouraged 428 retweets, 114 quoted tweets and gained 814 likes.

The recovery of the brand during the crisis was evident in the brand impression score among consumers dropping from 57 to 49 in the first few days and then increasing to 51 according to YouGov’s BrandIndex findings.

This simple yet effective ad is a prime example of a brand being proactive in the face of a PR disaster by responding in a very ‘human’ way, which ultimately prevented further damage to the brand’s reputation.

Assessing Controversial Marketing Success

As we know, marketing success is measured in different ways using a variety of metrics depending on a brand’s objectives.

Sometimes, in the case of KFC, success looks like mitigating severe brand damage..

Sometimes it can be an impactful campaign video reaching viral status, sparking meaningful discussions and improving a brand’s visibility like the case of Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign.

Solopress’ list highlights some crucial rules to achieving success with controversial campaigns however, such as ensuring the time is right and the tone is appropriate to avoid the advert causing a social media storm or falling on deaf ears.

Also noteworthy is the continued value of print media when it comes to getting a dialogue going, as we see in the Elvie billboard and light-hearted KFC print advert, which successfully used physical print alongside hashtags to drive social media conversation.

2D Codes: Preparing for the new dimension

After successful implementation in sectors including tobacco and pharmaceuticals, two-dimensional barcodes or ‘2D codes’ are gaining prevalence across industries and are expected at the point of sale within the next five years. The growth in 2Dcodes presents significant opportunities for manufacturers but is not without its risks.

As James Cutforth, Domino Printing Sciences, explains, preparing for the new dimension in barcodes requires bespoke product handling solutions, designed to facilitate crisp, clear coding on a range of products and packaging types…

A new dimension in barcodes

Two-dimensional barcodes have become a common addition to product packaging – with factors such as globalisation, online trading, and the need for more robust anti-counterfeit methods driving their uptake. In several industries, including European tobacco and pharmaceuticals, 2D codes are now a regulatory requirement.

Such is the success of 2D codes that in May of 2020, global standard organisation GS1 began an initiative to support the adoption of 2D codes at the point of sale (POS) with a new barcoding standard – the GS1 Digital Link. The standard will facilitate the use of 2D codes at POS systems and allow for a gradual transition away from standard linear barcodes.

There are multiple benefits to using 2D codes in place of traditional linear barcodes2D codes enable more information within a single code, including dynamic data, and can facilitate serialisation and wider traceability. However, the complex nature of 2D codes also presents some challenges.

The challenge behind 2D codes

It is imperative that 2D codes are printed correctly to ensure that they can be effectively scanned – this is particularly crucial when using 2D codes for regulatory purposes, such as those used in pharmaceutical applications, and will be increasingly important when considering 2D codes for use at POS.

Utilising variable 2D codes on products can provide significant benefits to manufacturers in terms of facilitating better supply chain control, however, applying the code to packaging that has been packed or filled can be challenging.

Dynamic data, such as batch-related information (including batch numbers, and ingredient variations including nutrition and allergen info), product expiry dates, and unique product IDs, will require real-time, on-product coding, rather than pre-coded labels. In such instances, simply ‘bolting on’ a coding device to an existing production line may not be optimal because often, production machinery is not designed with coding in mind.

For this reason, product handling or the ‘presentation of the product’ to the coding device is fundamental to achieving high-quality codes. Manufacturers that choose to code products in-line without effective product handling will be subject to production line variations which can affect final code quality, including:

  • Product position: Small variations in the position of products may result in codes applied in the wrong area or missing or incomplete codes.
  • Product distance from the printer: Positioning too close or too far from the coding device can result in blurry or unreadable codes.
  • Product angle: A slight rotation in product positioning can result in deformed codes, even if this is by just a few degrees.
  • Line speed: Minimal speed fluctuations will affect the quality of the code, leading to squeezed or stretched codes.
  • Conveyor vibrations: At high speeds, minimal vibrations can affect code quality leading to low-quality, blurred, or wavy codes.
  • Challenging product geometry: Certain packaging types can be a challenge for a standard coding setup.

At best, a poor quality 2D code resulting from inadequate product handling will cause a high number of rejections, rework, and defective stock. Poor quality 2Dcodes can also have a knock-on effect on lines that require the aggregation of serialised products. The repercussions can be even more severe if an unreadable 2D code leaves the factory unnoticed. Brands can face financial penalties such as fines, as well as loss of business, product recalls, and potential legal implications.

What’s the solution?

A bespoke product handling solution can solve all issues above concerning code quality by ensuring optimal and consistent product delivery to the coding equipment. The optimal solution will be designed based on several different considerations, including:

  • Product and packaging type: Factors such as the shape of a piece of packaging, substrate type, and weight of a filled pack can be crucial. In pharmaceuticals, for example, boxes of blister packs are light and have regular form, but glass or plastic medicine bottles will be more challenging to code.
  • Code requirements: Code type, placement, and resolution are determining factors. Many machine-readable codes have minimum size requirements and necessitate the use of high-resolution printing technologies.
  • Existing production specifications: If a coding solution is integrated into an existing production line, it will need to be designed with existing specifications in mind so as not to slow down production or reduce overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

A bespoke solution may use multiple types of technology to handle finished products and present them to the chosen coding device for final printing, including specialised conveyors, wheels, or product carriages and movers such as robotic arms, depending on the product type. These devices can use different methods to handle products with varying levels of force for delicate and robust products alike. A bespoke handler could be developed with pneumatic or servo-electric driven side-, top-, or bottom belts, or even magnetic or vacuum solutions.

As well as improving overall code quality, bespoke product handling solutions can also be developed to allow additional processes to enable pre- or post- treatment of a substrate, where necessary. When used alongside machine vision systems, such solutions can also help to give critical information for operations monitoring.

Conclusion

Product handling is the foundation that a viable 2D printing solution is based upon. When applying 2D codes directly onto product packaging, it is imperative to consider whether products can be adequately coded in situ or if a specialised product handling solution is required. Product handling solutions will help improve overall code quality on the line, helping manufacturers to improve OEE by reducing waste, increasing production efficiency, and reducing overall running costs.

WHITEPAPER: Businesses can deliver incremental revenue using variable digital print

Using variable digital print delivered one retailer 128% incremental revenue vs control – that’s according to an industry report from the Go Inspire Group, which also reveals that simply increasing design vibrancy, delivered a 20% uplift vs control.

The research determined that reflecting a customers’ individual preferences, by utilising enhanced personalisation and variability to tailor product imagery, offer and a range of other factors, can deliver a monumental difference in incremental revenue, from direct mail campaigns. 

The study also shares further recommendations for variability including:

• Personalised catalogues and brochure content

• Personalised barcodes 

• Personalised links to digital content

• Personalised offer periods 

• Segmented event invitations 

Visit here for the full paper and all its recommendations.

GUEST BLOG: Digital marketing and its relationship with print in 2019

Online advertising and digital platforms are the main drivers for many marketing campaigns. But in this digital age, can businesses survive without print advertising or, is there a future for digital and print playing to their strengths and working together?

Where The Trade Buys, specialist providers of marketing materials for events, has pulled together a helpful guide with their insights…

A focus on digital campaigns for driving sales

Many campaigns today are lost without digital. With more consumers than ever before spending time on the internet, businesses would be foolish not to get involved with online marketing.

Search engine marketing is one area of advertising that companies are becoming more involved with. As the name suggests, this side of digital marketing focuses on driving a business’ site to the top of the search results around relevant target phrases — from corporate keywords like ‘business cards’ to more fashion-focused targets like ‘dresses’. As a result, this can increase brand exposure and site traffic while improving sales figures.

Social media marketing is another area of business activity that wasn’t popular a few years back. From paid adverts to viral campaigns, the digital world has opened up many doors for small and medium companies in particular — exposing themselves to an audience that may not have known they existed and in turn, generating mass interest.

The digital world has made room for businesses to begin analysing their audience, allowing them to gain a greater insight to their general behaviour and spending patterns. From tracking analytics, whether this is across social media platforms or the main website, marketing managers are able to identify key areas of interest and create campaigns around this to drive sales.

There are many methods businesses can follow to hook an online audience and stay ahead of their competitors. Through a combination of search engine and social media marketing, many brands are beginning to run competitions and deals that are only exclusive to an online following. These low-cost campaigns will benefit from extensive reach.

Does print advertising still have something unique to offer

Although more businesses are beginning to take their focuses online, they shouldn’t neglect the power of print and the opportunities that can come off the back of it. Print very much has a place in modern advertising as it can offer a personal touch unlike no other and generally has a longer life cycle which is always beneficial for the exposure of your brand. Take printed leaflets for example, once they have been posted through the door, whoever picks them up will have to acknowledge your materials!

As well as door-to-door print advertising, business merchandise has not taken a backseat since the sprout in popularity of online promotions. Brand image has never been more important for businesses and shouldn’t be ignored — as a result, more companies are making investments in personalised products that represent what they stand for. Whether this is to help them externally, with the likes of outdoor banners, or internally for your office with the likes of customised calendars.

Although printed goods can often be higher in price, they can drive exceptional ROI to your campaign and create a memorable experience for the receiver which should be a core focus for your print campaign. This can be achieved through eye-catching designs and a choice of luxury materials which will lead to a meaningful engagement.

Print and digital collaborating

Although online and offline advertising are two entirely separate entities, they can work well together, and some brands are already utilising such methods.

Take QR codes for example, more businesses are trying to audiences in the real world to their online solutions. As QR codes are unique and can entice people to be more inquisitive, they can drive immense traffic to online campaigns when printed on banners. Through this method of advertising, marketing departments can track success and gather data on users when they’re interacting with the code. With the data collected from campaigns like this, businesses can record contact information (such as email addresses) if users decide they want to opt-in.

When looking closer to news publications, many of them still offer printed versions of their product — blurring the line between print and digital. With an understanding of the influence they have online, they’ve been able to merge two channels together and to distribute stories to a wider audience.

Near field communication is another area that should be further looked into when it comes to the relationship between online and offline platforms. Essentially, near field communication is a type of technology that has the ability to connect two smart devices — often with the help of a print medium. For example, a section of a poster can be tapped with a mobile phone which will then take the user to the ecommerce site for a specific product.

Digital companies testing out print marketing

Online hospitality marketplace, Airbnb has made huge waves in the way that we now book our holidays. Predominantly a digital business with its own website and downloadable app, the company decided to launch its own magazine for registered hosts (those who advertise their property) which is around 18,000 people. This magazine included personal stories of hosts and their accommodation, encouraging interaction with the digital business through print. Although the magazine production has been put on hold since, it’s a good example of how an online business can promote its services elsewhere.

Remember those iconic Coca Cola bottles that had labels with your name on? The printed labels for the Share A Coke campaign allowed the drink manufacturer to become more personal with its customers and as a result, buyers then shared their bottles on social media which made it an integrated campaign.

As we can see, digital and print both play huge parts in the marketing of a business. But often, they can be most successful when they’re brought together.

Sources

https://www.jeffbullas.com/mixed-marketing-create-joined-print-and-digital-campaigns/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/heres-what-happened-to-pineapple-airbnbs-one-off-print-magazine-1449684006

The Guardian goes compostable with new wrap

The Guardian newspaper has switched to a biodegradable wrapping solution as the organisation attempts to reduce its plastic waste.

It’s the first UK newspaper to make the move, applied to its Saturday editions which contain a host of supplements and magazines previously wrapped in polythene.

The new wrapper is produced using potato starch and, as such, can be placed in recycling unlike traditional plastic-based wrapping materials.

The solution will also be used for copies of the weekday paper dispatched to readers within London as part of their subscription package.

However, both The Guardian and its sister The Observer are putting their print prices up for the first time in three years – the weekday edition will increase by 20p to £2.20, while the cost of the Saturday edition will increase by 30p to £3.20.

The Observer will also cost £3.20 following a 20p increase.

Guardian Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner said: “Investigative reporting is difficult, costly and time-consuming. Thanks to the support of readers who buy the Guardian, the Observer and the Guardian Weekly in print, subscribe to our digital premium app, or make financial contributions to the Guardian, we are on the path to financial sustainability.

“But the economic conditions for newspapers remain very tough. Sales of all newspapers are in historic decline; advertisers increasingly spend their money with technology giants rather than publishers; and the costs of printing, paper and distribution continue to rise.”

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: itsapproved – Clever print management software from Cestrian

At Cestrian, we increasingly hear from our retail clients that they really value the technology solutions we provide to them, as well as the printing process itself.

Like retail, trends within printing have changed rapidly over time, making adaptation the key to survival. Meanwhile, innovation has always been a central focus for the Cestrian team, as we constantly seek new avenues to improve our service and take inspiration from advances in other industries.

itsapproved means truly agile printing

We introduced itsapproved to unify, simplify and streamline manual print management tasks for our clients – and it certainly seems to be working, with case studies showing it can make a 71% saving in manual administration time.

It’s a cloud-based print management system that allows retailers to:

  • Automate repetitive manual tasks, thus reducing time and the risk of errors
  • Automate real-time notifications on the status of print jobs
  • Accelerate the time to market, with ‘pre-flight’ artwork checks for efficiency and speed
  • Quickly upload, back up and archive information, using cloud storage
  • Use mobile device apps to check jobs on the go (iOS and Android)

Want to find out how itsapproved could make your print campaigns better? Talk to the Cestrian team today…

Phone us: 0161 488 3300

Email us: info@cestrian.co.uk

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Cestrian

Irish Government planning to monitor social media

Ireland’s Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has issued a controversial tender for firms that can supply it with social media monitoring services.

As reported by the Journal.ie, whoever wins the contract will monitor keywords on social media platforms and provide analysis in email updates or digests.

While it’s not clear exactly what will be monitored or how it will be reported, the initiative has raised concerns among privacy campaigners.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said it could have a “chilling effect” on freedom of expression, while Digital Rights Ireland questioned whether it was legal.

News of the social media monitoring plans actually emerged from a wider tender that the Irish Government put out that also required print and broadcast media monitoring.

It’s thought the contract will encompass up to 6,500 articles per month, split between 4,500 from print media and 2,000 from digital media.

Journal.ie says print media analysis will be provided in a digest each morning and digital media updates will be provided at regular intervals throughout the day.

The broadcast media service involves providing email updates showing the relevant coverage on all national, regional, and local radio and television stations across Ireland.

Print industry ‘yet to feel effects of Brexit’

Research from Close Brothers has revealed the supply chain concerns UK SMEs from multiple sectors have regarding Brexit, including the Print sector.

The asset finance specialist polled 900 businesses – while 56% say they have felt no impact on levels of business from the UK’s decision to leave the EU, a further 20% said it was too early to tell; only 24% had felt any kind of effect.

In the Print sector, Close Brothers says the results closely reflected those of the UK as a whole, which means it’s clear that the majority of Print businesses are yet to feel any real and tangible effect from Brexit.

In terms of spending decisions, more than three quarters (76%) of businesses have not delayed spending or investment decisions because of the EU Referendum.

Roger Aust, Managing Director of Close Brothers Asset Finance Print division, said: “Once again, Print businesses reflected exactly the national picture, but what is interesting to note is that 88% of smaller firms – those with a turnover of between £250k to £500k – were the least liable to allow the EU referendum stop them from pushing their business forward and investing.

“Close Brothers has a history of lending through all economic cycles, and experience tells us that these organisations aren’t sitting on large reserves of cash, meaning that in order to maintain business levels they typically don’t have a choice but to spend and invest to ensure a sustainable flow of cash.

“Firms don’t become unviable overnight; we see it as our responsibility to do what we can to ensure our customers, who are in the main SMEs, remain in business and can build towards a profitable future.

“One alternative to consider is restructuring your business finances to make any rise in costs easier to deal with. A great way to do this is through asset finance, which is where our team of experts at Close Brothers Asset Finance can help.

“Print is a significant player in the UK economy but there are ways to mitigate the risks and still have a productive and successful business.”

5 minutes with… Gary Peeling, CEO, Precision Printing

Precision Printing, an innovator in the print technology industry and leading supplier of litho printing, is one of the most respected companies in the sector. But, how do you manage one of the top printing companies in the UK? Here to share his insider knowledge and advice on all things print is the firm’s group CEO, Gary Peeling…

Can you tell us how you get started in print?

Yes, I began as Precision Printing’s teaboy! And that must have been about 30 years ago.

If we were to take on your role, what would a normal day at Precision Printing look like?

Rising early and getting started is really important to me and helps me get on with my work throughout the course of the day. To start, I’ll walk the production floors to make sure that everything is running smoothly. This is better than any dashboard or report, as you can see what projects we’re on, which customers we’re busy with, and the types of products that are selling well.

Obviously, checking how our business is doing is vital, too. So, after walking the floors, I review our ecommerce channels. Often, I also use the quiet time to complete more complex cost and business proposals, analytical or planning work. Then, I check all of my emails and usually follow this with a few meetings — often, there’s one away from our premises and two or three conducted on our site.  I tend to finish work at about 6:30pm.

How do you relax after work?

Family time and separating my mind from work is, of course, important. We enjoy doing things together, and I also love cycling, travelling the world and listening to Billy Joel!

Do you know any industry secrets you can let us in on?

I think readers would be surprised by how fast-changing print is and how much there is to learn. An insider view of print, that many people don’t know about, could be the monetising of emerging technologies, which often includes printing and graphic arts. Good examples of this are e-commerce, digital photography and Apple Mac.

What is it like being a CEO?

At the heart of my job, is the task of leading the executive teams. In a normal week, I dedicate around 50% of my time to analysing and reviewing marketing, sales and business development. Aside from that, I spend about 20% of my time on operational efficiency, 15% on finance and 10% on HR and staff.

Are there any role models in the sector that you admire?

Being in my position, I have decent knowledge of people in my industry and think it’s important to keep an eye on their careers and decisions. One gentleman that I find particularly inspirational is Alon Bar Shany, HP Indigo’s general manager. He’s somebody I really admire. Alon Bar Shany ran a revolution in digital printing and managed a massive global business, yet still somehow makes time to meet and know most of his significant customers.

Do you have any advice you can share with us about being in the print industry or working as a CEO?

Harbouring a creative flair and being able to adapt and change with each new trend is critical to anyone’s survival in the print sector. Believe it or not, every business slowly dies as soon as it launches. Also, don’t think that it’s ever too late or too complicated to do something — it rarely is.

I’d recommended keeping up to date with advances in tech if you want to excel in print, too. Print is versatile and dependent on new technologies, so being creative, marketing fresh ideas, and producing innovative products. If you can understand different business industries, print is going to be perfect for you.

What are the main problems that the print industry is facing?

It surprises me that people today have such reservations about the longevity and capabilities of the print sector. So, dismissing the myths that print is obsolete is a slight issue for use at the moment. Many believe that physical printing will be replaced with digital formats and this has resulted in reduced demand and margin pressure based on perceived value.

But are things improving?

Well, print is certainly prospering, so hopefully people will start recognising that it isn’t a dying industry. As digital marketing costs rise and the channels become busier, printing is starting to look like a remarkably good-value alternative.

Lastly, would you give us your Precision Printing highlights?

As part of Precision Printing for such a long time, there have been many stand-out moments that I cherish. Firstly, I’d say sending out 50,000 orders in just one day was a massive achievement for us. Next, receiving the UK Print Company of the Year award in 2007 was a very proud moment. After these, I’ll never forget when I was selected to be Dscoop: Global Chairman, and was delighted when we launched our “Oneflow” software as a commercial business.

NME

NME pulls the plug after 66-year print run

Iconic music mag NME will cease its 66-year print run, with the Friday 9th March issue being its last ever going to print.

Parent company Time Inc has blamed the decision to close the title on increasing production costs and a ‘tough’ print advertising market, with a new aim of expanding NME’s digital offering and increasing online readership.

The NME switched from a newstand mag to a free sheet back in 2015 in a bid to increase it’s print circulation and win back commercial partners.

“The print re-invention has helped us to attract a range of cover stars that the previous paid-for magazine could only have dreamed of,” said Paul Cheal, Time Inc UK Group Managing Director for Music. “At the same time, we have also faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market. Unfortunately we have now reached a point where the free weekly magazine is no longer financially viable.

“It is in the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand.”

Time Inc has said that it will continue to publish special one-off print versions of the magazine and will continue to explore ‘other opportunities to bring its best class music journalism to market in print’.

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