As we all hurtle headlong into the digital space, I am sometimes surprised to discover pockets of ‘analogue’ behaviour surviving this populist revolution. In fact, there is one practise that is positively thriving long after I thought we had marked its passing. I call it Printer’s Delight; the continued and thoughtless printing of paper and cardboard collateral materials.
Let me tell you that barely a week goes by without one company or another presenting me with a diary that would have looked more at home on the writing desk of Mr. Charles Dickens. Perhaps they are gently trying to tell me that I am too old for the modern world? All I can say is that, thanks to this beneficence, my office and domestic staff will never want for ‘quality’ stationery items.
Then there’s the fact that one cannot leave a business meeting without taking away an unfeasibly large notepad complete with a biro (containing just enough ink for a week’s scribbling).
And why do so many of my client companies still hold the most enormous stocks of wall and desk calendars dated 2017 … when here we are in October? In this case my irritation stems less from the wasted stock, and more from the utter meaninglessness of the design and content of such pieces.Insurance company calendars with stock photos of ships and containers. Digital company calendars featuring images of attractive and well-groomed African Americans. Is that what we are all meant to look like having succumbed to’ digital solutions’?
In every single case, if you cover up the company logo you have a piece of printed material that could be the collateral for AnyCompany Ltd. And whom, I wonder, is in dire need of printed calendars that chart the passing of the days in a genuinely 1970’s style?
Well, if you ask those people tasked with Marketing or – Heaven forfend – Procurement, they will tell you that ‘customers ask for calendars.’ They will confirm, without the slightest irony, that ‘people are happy’ to receive an anodyne piece of antediluvian promotional material. It is in fact the one thing that secures the future business of valued customers, and frankly without it we might as well shut up shop and retire to our respective shambas.
If I was the CEO of a company with a collateral materials budget, I would fall on such nonsensical behaviour like the ‘Assyrian coming down like a wolf on the fold’ (with apologies to Lord Byron). I would tear up the local purchase orders; chase away the printers’ reps; break open the hidden vaults of undistributed collateral. And shame the Marketing, Sales, Procurement and HR people who perpetuate this crime against commerce. We’re in the second decade of the 21st century. Enough is enough.
Chris Harrison leads The Brand Inside