Paper chase: The real-life connection of print

From Goop to Taylor Swift, the breakthrough power of print is popping up in surprising places.

BY Cyndee Miller
VP, Content, Imagination

With mass digitization came mass content. And truth be told, not all of it’s super compelling—which is starting to once again make print look pretty darn appealing to brands. Done right, print gives brands a license to physically connect with readers over a longer period—especially if the content is seen as something that can only be experienced IRL.

Celebrity Publishers

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop is a card-carrying member of the digital zeitgeist. But that apparently wasn’t enough—she’s pulling an Oprah, launching a magazine version of her lifestyle/wellness brand in partnership with Condé Nast and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

“Collaborating … on this multiplatform content partnership, anchored by Goop’s emergence into a physical entity, was an opportunity for us to push our boundaries visually and deliver Goop’s point of view to consumers in new, dynamic ways,” the actress said in a statement. Goop magazine cover A slick 96-page quarterly, goop goes for $14.99, and the first cover star is Paltrow herself, soaking in a bathtub of mud. Reaction was … well, we couldn’t possibly sum it up any better than The Telegraph: “While unconfirmed, experts believe the image may have conjured a world record for the largest collective eyeroll since records began.”

Not to be outdone, fellow celeb Taylor Swift is also entering the print fray, releasing not just one, but two magazines packaged with her latest CD, Reputation, at Target locations in November.

Target wasted zero time heralding the coup on its blog: “We’ve Got Never-Before-Seen Content, Only at Target.”

“Curated” by Taylor, the Target post goes on to gush, the “unique, collectible magazines” will feature 72 pages of personal poetry and photos, as well as artwork by Swift, handwritten lyric sheets, video shoot outtakes and a poster.

Beyond the Stars

Even for mere mortals, print pieces can become collectibles in a way that digital content cannot. The first issue of Print, a new biannual fashion pub targeting avant-garde influencers, came packaged in a box with posters, prints and badges. “We wanted to create something timeless that people could come back to and rediscover,” magazine co-founder Christopher Simmonds told The New York Times.

Not content to simply disrupt digital content, the geniuses over at Quartz are issuing their first print book showcasing the role of 10 objects that power the global economy. The pitch: “Equal parts art and journalism, Objects is itself a beautiful object filled with immersive and interactive stories.”

And yet another brand with deep online cred is expanding into print. Hodinkee, the self-described “pre-eminent resource for modern and vintage wristwatch enthusiasts” will release a high-end title that looks beyond watches. The mag will forgo newsstands and be sold through the website and hospitality partners including Soho House. In a blog post, the site’s managing editor says the mag was “a long time coming” and will allow the title to “tell stories that might not fit right here on the good old dot com for one reason or another.”

The 160-page premiere issue will sell for $27. Skeptics take note: The limited edition with a “special matte black cover, no images and tonal logos” was sold out before the mag launched in late September.

"Print never died; the business model did."

“Print Never Died”

None of this means print should be a part of every brand’s strategy. Only one-third of marketers currently publish print content. But those who do consider it the most important channel after email and LinkedIn (for B2B) and Facebook (for B2C), according to 2017 Content Marketing Institute (CMI) research.

“Print never died; the business model did,” Joe Pulizzi, CMI founder, told “Advertisers don’t want to pay for it, but consumers still engage in print content. With digital communications becoming so competitive and cluttered, there is a chance to break through.”

published: February 28, 2018

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