“The next big thing” — Print in the communications mix
Heidelberger Druckmaschinen set important accents: The booth in Hall 1 trumped with the installation of five real-printing facilities. Printed materials of all kinds were produced in real terms – from data processing to finished products. All necessary equipment had been specifically tested in advance to enable them to deliver top performance. Next to this it showed what hybrid productions can look like: Inkjet and offset printing in the mix, toner-based digital printing and offset printing in combination with online and mobile applications, as well as displaying significant perspectives and taking a futuristic look at “Printed Electronics” in the Innovation Center of the Heidelberg booth. It became apparent that print in the communications mix is extremely important, if not central in an indispensable role.
Xerox made its mark in automated production in both commercial and packaging printing, as well as within the range of XMPie in cross-media approach. Particularly impressive at Xerox was the way it has created a way of bridging the gap from print to social media and cloud printing. Many others can also be named, and what could be seen with other exhibitors such as Canon, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, and Xeikon. Xeikon just stunned with its never-ending drive for innovation, which portrayed this relatively small player as an outstanding inventor. The drupa innovation park and lots of small ’Hot Shops’ impressed on around 130 stalls, with their innovations. My personal favorite – thanks to Bernd Zipper for the tip: cardolution from Vienna showed how it is able to integrate RFID chips into cardboard and offer NFC Business Cards for everyone. The chip transmits the address information from printed business cards correctly onto smartphones.
In this sense, drupa 2012 was a great success, marked by a few dozen prominent exhibitors who could prove that print has an unbroken power of innovation. Small drawback: The papermakers were barely visible. This is a shame. Sappi was as a premium brand, for example, represented by three smaller stands, but it was not clear what Sappi’s added-value drupa message was. The same goes for digital printing paper market leader Mondi. There was a presence at drupa, but probably more devoted to the contact to technology developers instead to the market of buyers. The exception was UPM in Hall 6, which focused its presentations and displays on both commercial and newspaper customers, as well as the end-user with a very strong environmental message added.
Change in Business Communication approach — Consolidation amongst media professionals
It is amazing and worthy of consideration, because this has been at drupa on this scale never before: The number of members of the press has declined by about 3,000 from 84 countries in the year 2008 to 2,400 from 75 countries in 2012. This is followed by the number of members of the press exactly the trend of sharp decline in visitors (minus 20 percent compared to 2008). Regardless of whether the media coverage of drupa 2012, quantitatively or qualitatively, have been better or worse, the reason should be scrutinized. Because traditionally it was always important for a drupa, to include professional competence as a media partner. It appeared however that press tasks are redefined, and in fact the view of many exhibitors will be to use trade magazines only to serve as a PR platform for exhibitors and their trade fair offers. Journalists are in short supply and tend to be stylized as claqueurs.
The trade fair Drupa Daily newspaper also reflects this again, because as of Haymarket on behalf of Messe Düsseldorf in the circadian rhythm-driven, advertising-funded print and online project, everything was worked up, that happened during the drupa 2012. But what could be the added value if the day’s events have been rumoured — and nothing more? In addition, all that was relevant was made via Twitter and / or YouTube by major exhibitors and analysts immediately publicize themselves. And of course, concise comments. For visitors and decision makers this could offer enormous advantages, since one could learn just about Twitter quickly and concisely in a direct digital path. Provided you know how it works! Talking digital: The drupa app for smartphones and iPad by Messe Düsseldorf disappointed, because only simple queries were possible, and it delivered no added value compared to the printed exhibition catalogue. That could have been done much better with a little extra effort.
A great step forward — Technology vendors are publishers and broadcasters in one!
A new feature with signal effect: Canon Switzerland produced on behalf of Canon Europe, a whole series of world-class professional interviews, created in high-quality TV style of its own Canon web-TV team. Very well done! Compliment! HP, Konica Minolta, Xerox, and Landa, newcomers, as well as many other smaller exhibitors demonstrated as well, their social media power. A visit to press conferences at drupa was thus in principle obsolete. What was presented at a conference for the representatives of the press was, at the same moment of the conference, published by the press conference organizers themselves on the web. To attend press conferences is only worthwhile, therefore, if you made a point to be entertained in an intelligent way, such as EFI CEO Guy Gecht did, or wondering / annoyed by Kodak CEO Antonio Perez, whose arrogant appearance, where self-perception and reality seems to collide with his company.
An inevitable effect: Those drupa exhibitors who publish multimedia self-invest none or hardly any money in professional advertising. The advertising revenues presented have so far been the main source of of income for specialist media publishers. This may explain why the number of press representatives declined so much. Many print journalists are really annoyed about the digital competition and keep Twitter & Co. for the devil. And drupa exhibitors have (still) not demonstrated that they can use social media effectively in the interests of customers and prospects. Too many use Twitter, for example, to take over their PR agencies, the ghost-writing on Twitter. The result is product-related communications push content. But Twitter users are interested in smart conversations — they don‘t like push-PR messages very much.
Print trade shows in trouble — Missing the end customers (print buyers)
Unexpectedly, was not the sharp drop in visitors and media representatives at drupa 2012. Messe Düsseldorf had indicated in advance that around 350,000 and is no longer, as once expected, the nearly 400,000 visitors. And it was hoped that from the Far East, and especially from China, that many new visitors would come from this region but there were “only” just over 310,000 visitors (the exhibitor staff, journalists, VIP’s not included). Many exhibitors were upset. They said that a record number of visitors is less important. More important is to get the right visitors to come, i.e. the decision makers and prospective buyers from the graphic arts markets. This has worked. Sales exceeded some expectations. All in all, sales revenues in the region of 2 to 2.5 billion EURO are likely to be implemented at, or immediately following drupa 2012.
drupa Was the drupa 2012 a success or not? The answer is yes and no at the same time! Yes, because it was found that innovation lies in the printing and paper technology development. No, because the efficacy was limited to the drupa industry insider. For more than a decade it has become clear that the fate of the printing and paper industry is no longer decided by printing and paper specialists, but by their customers and the market players in the online world. If they lock them out at drupa, the pace of innovation and adaptation in the communications market will weigh too rapidly from print. A look at the bigger picture beyond would have been useful — but remained well below or were not properly pursued. This show other important German trade fairs such as the automotive mega-show, IAA, or the Frankfurt Book Fair on exactly how to permanently overtakes success: The industry participants are always there together: from makers, to visitors and customers of all kinds. This is exactly what was needed, but was omitted from the drupa 2012 in Dusseldorf. Too bad!
WANTED! — Link to the communication specialists in the market
It is regrettable, however, that the drupa 2012 was unable to fully exploit its potential. For many years drupa does not adequately represent important groups of visitors, especially the so-called “print buyers”, the principal of printers from agencies and enterprises / brands. Drupa 2012 should have been able to inspire and motivate a lot of print buyers, more than ever before. Documents can be this simple: I myself had a few dozen print buyers and decision makers come from agencies and businesses to drupa 2012 – for example, in cooperation with the GWA. GWA drupa special interest day on 9 May 2012. GWA is the leading agency association in Germany. Through the Bank’s enthusiasm for present agency employees was huge when they are properly involved. To get the right knowledge, what is at stake, and how to profit from technological innovations in the communications business.
The exhibitors visited by GWA — Heidelberg, HP, Xerox and exhibitors and i. e. map specialist locr in the drupa innovation park had been well prepared and adjusted to the print buyer. HP GSB‘s global marketing director Francois Martin, it could be, for example, do not take to prove with facts and creative prime examples of how the marketing and brand benefits from digital printing productions. For example, when BBDO individualized for the client Smart in Paris, an out-of-home campaign with 2092 posters, it scored much attention and in less than 14 days had produced posters in the main streets of Paris.
How can the fact matter that drupa 2012 was not an attraction point for agency and brand representatives on its own? The drupa cube was made by Messe Duesseldorf with daily events to major application issues. But the total of 1,000 participants or so in 13 days, presented in terms of the size of the communications industries employ was only a drop in the ocean. In Germany alone, nearly 800,000 professionals work as communications professionals. In this respect the drupa participation was in vanishingly small per thousand range.
In addition, the carrier of drupa, led by the German Engineering Federation VDMA and the German print association groups have a very narrow focus: They address only techies and printers out of their memberships. They are not linked to the communication specialists in the market. Say the established contact structures are directed to those target groups, offering the classic technologies of printing and paper sector or common printing services.