“Perspiration Hardware” And The Power of Print PLUS Digital

Restoration Hardware Source BooksThunk. Your new Restoration Hardware source books have arrived. Restoration Hardware is getting a lot of attention for their bold strategy which uses Print PLUS Digital. But most of the news focus is on the print! It’s very expensive to print and mail an entire suite of source books to consumers around the country. According to the UPS label on the shrink-wrapped set of books that arrived at our home, the package was more than 15 pounds and included a total of ten books.

Much of the reaction from consumers and media outlets is that the oversized bundle is an excessive, tree killing exercise that’s out of touch with the new digital world.  Restoration Hardware has done a nice job responding to these concerns with information on the carbon neutrality of their shipping, the use of FSC Certified paper and the fact that all these books are mailed once per year versus multiple mailings.  You can see their full response at this page on their website.

What can those of us living at the intersection of print and digital take away from the Restoration Hardware campaign?

Print and digital are more powerful together –  Restoration Hardware has what most would consider a world-class, beautifully designed ecommerce website.  Their use of print is clearly in complement to their site and they have found a way to create an effective interplay between the two mediums.

Print makes an impact – Can you remember a time when an email, facebook post or tweet had a “thud factor” along the lines of what a 15 pound package can have?  Email open rates, even for well managed house lists, have most email not even being opened and while social media can have a significant impact, there is an enormous noise level in the social world to overcome.  A well executed print piece, even something a bit more svelte than the Restoration Hardware piece, can have an impact that digital may not be able to replicate.

Print is beautiful – Once you crack through the shrink-wrap and spend some time with the Restoration Hardware pieces, the strategy starts to become clear.  Restoration Hardware products are beautiful, made from a wide variety of interesting materials and are placed in a context that would be difficult to replicate in a pure digital environment.  The photography, graphics, typography and copy are clearly the result of a very talented team doing top notch work.  The experience flipping through a source book is absolutely unique to the print medium.

Although Hudson Printing has no part in THIS campaign, these fantastic source books are right up our alley.  And we LOVE this campaign! It is an intelligent use of Print PLUS Digital to make a remarkable and memorable impact.