Savoring the details in DDB’s Milky Way print ad

It’s the forgotten advertising form.  It gets no respect.  It’s probably going to go the way of the dinosaur before much more time has elapsed.  We just have that sinking feeling. 

Especially as magazines of the hardcopy variety continue to be threatened with extinction (goodbye Newsweek, we really loved you!).

Yes, we’re talking about the print ad.

That wonderfully retro thing that used to help flesh out a magazine and provide some diversion between what we hoped would be editorial content so gripping that we would want to read every word.

If that were indeed the case with the editorial, well then it behooved those print ads to be that much more gripping if they were going to get our attention.

Among all forms of advertising, print always has offered consumers the great luxury of being able to really focus on a product and a brand message.  Yes, focus. As in linger and take in everything the ad was about — from ad copy to art direction to all the little details that combine in great print advertising to create a wonderfully satisfying whole.

Well, how very ridiculous you may be saying.  Don’t all those banner ads that keep popping up as one surfs the Web serve just as well as something printed on a piece of paper?

Not really.

Because for us, the very fact that they are found on the Web instantly diminishes the ads, as well as the art and craft they may display.  Why?  Because they are on Web, which isn’t, truth be told, a medium that encourages one to pause and reflect and soak up what one is seeing.

New Milky Way ad is attention-getting

New Milky Way print adThat’s why the term “surf” is so closely aligned with the Web and what it is about.  And what the Web is about is constantly roaming around looking for tidbits of information, insight, titillation — whatever one craves at any given second. 

Yes, any given second.  The thought of lingering and savoring isn’t easy when you’re thinking in terms of seconds and quickly getting to whatever the Web inevitably is luring one to next.

So we were reflecting on all of this as we took a look at a new Milky Way candy bar print campaign (that’s right ad people, print!!) from DDB/Chicago that has just rolled off the presses. 

Alas, we weren’t able to savor the work in its proper place  — the printed page — but we made a point of not letting the Internet on our computer start pulling us away as we tried to take in all the fun details. 

This is a campaign for a candy bar, after all.  We wouldn’t have expected something too grim or depressing, and it isn’t.  The new ads simply try to convey that eating a Milky Way — an iconic treat that seems so very retro today, doesn’t it? — can be a very satisfying experience. So much so that it may distract one from more pressing matters.

Figure skaters in ad thrown for a loop

It’s not an especially profound or surprising or entirely credible message that these new Milky Way ads seek to send to the consumer.  But the ads become more palatable and the message more believable the more one really takes the time to appreciate the way a single visual image can tell a story and encapsulate a product message.

Of the various Milky Way ads now on view in magazines our favorite is one of two figure skaters — obviously thrown for a loop — when they see their scores for the program they presumably have just finished skating.  

The pair have received perfect scores of 6.0 from two European judges and one Russian judge, only to discover they’ve gotten a disastrous 2.5 from the American judge.

On one level the ad rather savvily alludes to a big problem in figure skating for many years, namely some judges’ tendency to score skaters according to their national and political affiliations. That problem was supposedly solved several years ago when a different kind of point-based system was introduced to judge skaters.

Political and judging issues aside, however, the print ad ultimately wants viewers to believe the reason the American judge gave the couple the low score was the Milky Way bar that distracted him from closely watching the couple skate.

Point made.

Print allows savoring of ad details

But the real pleasure this Milky Way ad provides comes from closely observing the skaters themselves and those priceless expressions — shock, disbelief — that compel us to fully take in what the ad is saying. 

And oh yes, all those other little details in the photograph that are so specific to figure skating — the make-up, the formfitting costuming, the floral bouquet. It’s all there to savor and amuse.

It certainly takes a bit more effort and time to appreciate good, detailed print advertising.  And the way things are trending, we may not have that pleasure for too much longer. So may we suggest that anyone who truly appreciates the art and craft of print work start to savor what you can now. 

And, please, don’t let that Milky Way you’re eyeing distract you too much.

Contact Lewis Lazare at