Why offline is hot again


For people living in Europe and specifically France, August was the month of vacation. It is that time of the year when you get to turn on the “out of office” automated email and take time to lay back, relax and disconnect from the routine of your everyday life.

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So much like my fellow Parisians, I escaped from the cloudy metropolitan village to a sunny village, in the hopes of enjoying the turquoise water of the Mediterranean. A few moments after my check-in at the resort, I found myself asking the staff for the Wi-Fi password. I was beyond delighted when they informed me that the connection was also accessible at the beach. Hallelujah!

This meant that I could get to post live updates on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and even on Periscope… Why not?

Yet several minutes after I was switching back and forth through all these applications, I suddenly felt exhausted and simply worn out. So I resorted to the magazine beside me to turn off all that online noise and enjoy a peaceful read. And it got me to thinking: is offline hot again? This was definitely not the first time I grabbed onto something physical as a means of unwinding.

I remember back in 2006, at the time when Facebook became popular, I would connect to my computer, and go through my friends’ walls and photos as a way of separating myself from my “offline” life. It was a fun and novel experience. And since then, everything digital is replacing traditional tools and actions. But as one becomes mainstream, the latter is regaining its exclusivity.

I truly believe that, metaphorically speaking, offline has become the new online.

From what I learned at the Cannes Lions 2016 Festival, is that advertisers worldwide are still unsure about how to fully control their client’s online identity. They do know that a brand’s online presence is crucial, but are facing the difficulty of forecasting the success and reach of an integrated marketing communication strategy. Moreover, many experts have taken back their belief that online media will completely replace offline media, which was the headline at the turn of the century.

If you take online shopping for example, how many times have you ordered an item and were deceived once it arrived at your doorstep? Wasn’t it a more successful and convenient purchase when you have ordered the article after you have seen it live at the boutique? Not to mention missing out on the store experience and the joy of going through all the different fabrics, colours and cuts.

As for other forms of online media like books and magazines, aren’t you just tired of all the advertisements that pop up out of nowhere and distract you from the original content? The simple gesture of turning a page has been replaced by pressing the skip button repetitively. And in some cases, having to wait for that irrelevant 30-second advert to play.

Speaking of advertising, I have started to sense that a billboard is becoming more and more attractive and eye-catching, specifically in a world where promotions seem to follow you through email, webpages and sponsored posts everywhere. In my opinion, if a billboard is aesthetically beautiful and well placed, its image will resonate longer in your mind than if the same photograph was diffused online.

That same disruption applies to various human interactions, from socialising and catching up with friends and family to participating in different kinds of activities and events.

Personally speaking, I would much rather attend a Formula 1 Grand Prix to cheer for my favourite driver, hear the roaring engines and fully witness all the action. For me, this real experience is way more exciting than streaming the event from my computer.

In conclusion, we could never deny all the advantages of the online revolution. And having a strong online presence will always remain indispensable for business and personal matters. However, I truly believe that, metaphorically speaking, offline has become the new online. And the challenge of the marketer of today is to find the right balance.

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