Author Archives: Hugh Griffin

About Hugh Griffin

Former Marketing Manager, now happily retired.

The Magical Art of Harry Potter’s Security Printing

As Warner Bros. planned the new Harry Potter Collectors Edition “treasure chest,” the first piece they wanted fans to see when opening this incredible product was a “Certificate of Authenticity” with genuine artistic value.  While wisely combating potential product counterfeiting, their ultimate goal was to provide fans with truly artistic, collectible Certificates which perfectly match the “look” of these excellent films. Ultimately, multiple print processes (lithography, embossing, foil stamping, digital color printing & other techniques) were combined to recreate “the magic” which delights worldwide fans. And of course, that required producing these collector’s edition Certificates in multiple languages. Continue reading

Toshiba’s PR Fiasco

Toshiba’s recent PR gimmick, a “National No Print Day,” is a textbook example of how e-com and energy related companies strive to misdirect environmental concerns by setting up bogeymen to deflect scrutiny from their impact.

Although producing well regarded products and services, Toshiba’s recent PR campaign profoundly misfired by piggybacking on the “green-washing” cycle instigated back in the “” era.

In truth, paper is a renewable resource. 2/3rd of its contents come from recycled materials, whether it be post-consumer waste or wood chips and castoffs from other industries. Of the 1/3rd portion of paper that is made from virgin trees, 90% of that comes from responsibly managed Tree Farms. If the demand for paper were to disappear, so would these farms, and the land they’re on would likely be repurposed – potentially for livestock, or a less environmentally-friendly crop. ( Source ) Continue reading

2012 National Stationery show

This year’s event confirmed GLM’s (the show manager) spring survey: “interest in engraving is overtaking letterpress.”  While letterpress remains quite popular in the social stationery universe, the desire to use more vibrant colors, a wider array of stocks, and achieve higher “tactility” (raised ink) seems to be converging with awareness that customers buying social stationery, when given a choice,  tend to prefer environmentally friendly offerings.

We suspect this may have something to do with a comment we heard several times: social stationery designers who’ve been using thermography report “thermographers catering to the social stationery marketplace are rapidly disappearing.”

While there was expected high interest in “multi-process work,” we were a bit surprised by the marked increase in interest  in digital printing.  It may be that those searching for low cost solutions for short run work are also moving from thermography to digital printing (even though digital printing cannot yield a tactile image unless combined with embossing).

Election Season Depends Upon Print

It’s no surprise, given the inability to secure digital information, that the upcoming election cycles are again choosing print to ensure voters get reliable information and ballots. Here, in Los Angeles, we digitally print tens of millions of pages of CA voter guides in nearly 90 languages, sort and mail them to millions of individual voters…all within a few weeks.

Despite the use of e-technology to saturate the public with campaign messages, when information has to be right, secure and understood by everyone, “print” continues to prove its unique value. As you vote, and I strongly encourage everyone to exercise that responsibility, appreciate that your vote is going to count and can be audited and verified.

While digital voting may someday arrive (hopefully not before every eligible voter has equal “e-access”), when that happens, all bets are off.  Unlike print, e-ballots can be hacked, tracked and worse.  Time will tell.

On The Road Again

In response to recent online requests about meeting us, here’s an early list of confirmed 2012 exhibits,events, dates and locations.

April – ALA Expo, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu  – April 20-24

May – The National Stationery Show, Jacob Javits Center, NYC – May 19-23

IEGA – Int’l Engraved Graphics Assoc., Renaissance Hotel,Charleston SC  June 21-23

We update this list as events are confirmed and hope to see you “down the road” :>)

The End of Business Cards? Hardly.

Today’s LA Times front page had an article (featuring an online entrepreneur :>) who definitely sees no use for business cards, no future and predicts “they’re over.”  Buried in the article were points which clearly refute the title of article, but no matter.

What turned out to be really interesting after reading this “echo from the Rot Com era” was: although I’m a loyal p-newspaper subscriber because I support their investigative journalism, I later visited the LA Times site to see reader responses (LAT generously provides a Comments section for each article).

Oops, all but one response derided the article and the idea that business cards are “over.”  Despite the “e-PR spin” –  the future is all about ‘bumping’ mobile devices, ‘snapping’ codes and such…to instantly download contact data – the article curiously failed to address the exploding problem of mobile device hacking, which is doubling every few months…the reason savvy folks resist dumping unverified data into their contact lists.

What was truly interesting among the comments, several clearly called out the “e-com is greener” myth…and backed their arguments with facts. Just as I was smiling and navigating elsewhere, I bumped into another “e-PR” article built upon the premise “Things change, the ‘New Normal’ is here to stay.”  Where I’d been smiling before, I laughed out loud at this one.  No, sorry Gen Y, “today’s New Normal” will also change.

That’s the problem with “spin,” once folks start, they can’t seem to stop, but no matter.

I needed a good laugh to end the week. And the biggest one of all came right after…when I read that neutrino communication can eventually replace the internet. The recently completed research and successful tests are no laughing matter, but the thought of all that e-PR facing finally facing its comeuppance, that’s sublime.

The QR Conundrum – Will They Last ?

As many speculate on the fading popularity of QR codes, I don’t see them vanishing. I think they’ll continue to be widely used for their originally intended purposes and others not yet seen. QR’s never gained popularity with more than 16% of the U.S. population, and now they’re getting more bad press (this time for installing unauthorized phone billing). When used in context, they’re safe, but early adopters are becoming hesitant about using them.

If not QR’s, then what ?  My guess:  “Near field printing, ” which enables printing to simply be “touched against” a mobile device to enable e-links, could become “the Next Big Thing” in interactive printing and marketing.

“NFP” (Near Field Printing) uses printed circuits (a long proven technology), but unlike QR codes, they’re typically over-printed and invisible to the naked eye. I think this, along with ‘ease of use,’ will better satisfy designers, marketers and consumers. The new circuits introduced by Touchcode show exceptional promise thanks to their ability to auto-connect printing to pads, readers and mobile devices.

For NFP to achieve its full potential, printers are going to need a quick, easy and inexpensive way to generate circuit layouts. Expect more competition for Touchcode in the years ahead.


Consumers, Including the Younger Generation, LIKE PAPER

Some very interesting statistics have emerged from the recent global survey on consumer’s environmental perceptions of print and paper.

– Paper is the preferred information medium for reading and document storage amongst ALL age groups.

– 70% prefer reading from paper (69% of 18-24 yr. olds),  68% believe paper is more pleasant to handle than other media, and 67% agree paper records are more sustainable than electronic storage (including a surprising 65% of 18-24 yr. olds).

Having been subjected to digital sales propaganda equating “paper” with “forest destruction” since childhood,  it’s little wonder 85% of 18-24 yr. olds believe there’s a connection between paper making and the loss of tropical rain forest (despite the reality the primary cause of deforestation in these protected areas is subsistence agriculture and fuel requirements in developing nations). But in their defense, 65% of ALL consumers believe US forests have reduced in size over the past century, even though US forest area has actually remained stable while growing volume has increased 45% in the past 100 years.


The Sky Is(n’t) Falling

Call it “Pernicious Pessimism” or “Corrosive Communication,” with all the frenzy to be online and “24/7 infotainment,” relentless alarmists have become the Chicken Little’s of our post-millennial era.

Actually, this isn’t “the worst economy,”  “most inept Congress,” nor “the end of American exceptionalism.” Yes, things are Tough, but they’ve been tougher, and they’re getting better (despite Wall Street and despite media ‘gloom and doom’). Things are changing, as they always do. Granted, the scale of change seems unusually large, perhaps because we’re constantly pummeled by too many ‘talking heads’ with dubious qualifications and self-serving agendas.

One hears constantly about the “loss of confidence” by business, but in reality smart companies are adapting, evolving and doing better in many cases. “Trusted brands” are performing better, even as innovation brings forth “new brands” which provide genuine value.

There are healthy signs the “Deafening Decade,” as I call it, is giving way to a renewed appreciation for “quality of communication” (rather than sheer “quantity” of bombast). Life works that way. Society reacts, and over-reacts at times, but the majority seem, to me, to finally be tiring of being “shouted at” from every direction. Given that, I think businesses which exhibit “customer respect, common sense, stability and value” will lead the way to better times, and that’s a good thing.


Where Printing is Going

As exhaustion with generic e-communication grows, demand for “tactile” print processes, those which better express a “feeling,” continue to grow.

Demand for multi-process printing which involve “raised print,” be it engraving, thermography, litho/embossed or foil/embossed, is on a steady upward curve as communicators want to create stronger impressions to maximize interest and boost response.

Recent webinars which help designers learn how to cost-effectively deploy “tactile” print are drawing increasingly large audiences, stimulating a Lot of requests for samples and turning into jobs which are responding to the “longing for the tangible and credible.”

While we’ve long provided free multi-process samples, this Fall our new Capabilities Booklet will debut, explaining and demonstrating 8 print processes, how to prep files, and the cost/benefits of each.

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