How print is finding its social purpose

By John Blyth, Marketing & Communications Manager, Graphic Communications Group Ricoh Europe

Ricoh Europe, London, April 08 2022 -How many facets does print have? Well, there’s its proven ability to communicate, its long history of innovation, its ability to build brand equity, and to integrate into omnichannel campaigns. But one of the facets that is gaining traction is how it is playing a significant role in helping publishers, brands, and organisations promote a wider social purpose.

Through the powerful medium they are finding clever ways to improve the lives of people and the environment they live in.

They are also giving print a life beyond words on a page.

They are even effecting real change to make a positive difference as these examples highlighted by Two Sides show:

Customers at Norwegian supermarket Oda are buying much less red meat after it began printing a ‘climate footprint’ report on customer receipts. Louise Fuchs, sustainability director at Oda, said “Our customers buy more than 50 per cent more fruit and veg than the average consumer and meat substitutes are growing 80 per cent year-on-year since we added the carbon receipts.

We do not want to point fingers and tell our customers what to buy and what to avoid – climate receipts arrived because of what our customers asked for.”

On the receipts, products with high, medium, or low emissions associated with them are shown in red, amber, or green.

Israeli magazine Laisha helped women suffering from domestic violence when it switched its usual cover template to feature just the numbers 6724 – which are the numbers for a 24/7 helpline. The bold move resulted in a 500% increase in calls within a week.

Fully sighted readers got some understanding of what it’s like to have limited sight when free newspaper Metro produced Great Britain’s first braille front cover in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). 15,000 special editions were distributed in London to coincide with the International Day of Disabled People on December 3. The white cover featured braille writing while a QR code on the inside invited readers to translate the text.

In contrast to these clever uses of print Lebanese daily newspaper AnNahar  chose not to print at all. The reason was to support the forthcoming national election on May 15. Instead of running an edition on February 2, during a time of unprecedented pressure on supplies, it redirected the saved paper and ink to the production of ballot papers. For that day readers were guided to online content by billboards.

These are inspiring ways print can be used, or not used, to convey messages and meanings beyond words or images on paper. In the interests of meaningful causes.

But they are just a tip of the iceberg of what creative brands, designers, and specifiers can imaginatively bring to life through clever thinking, customised production, and print enhancements. Not sure what’s next, but am sure it will further demonstrate the extraordinary, electrifying power and versatility of this multifaceted medium.

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