On the evening of Friday December 3rd, over 400 guests filled the pressroom at Hemlock Printers for hParty1.0 – a gala open house and technology launch event. Besides toasting over 40 years of leadership in the printing industry, the crowd was on hand to witness the launch of a ‘new communications platform’, which promised to bridge the print/digital divide. The room was aglow, the atmosphere electric. Like something out of an alternate Steve Jobs universe, the hPad burst into life on the video screen to applause, astonishment and… laughter?

Under all that hype, Hemlock launched…. a note pad.

The irony of the event was not lost on the crowd of designers, clients, businesspeople and agency types. Invitations had come via a combination of customized postcards, personalized Nametag™ RSVP web pages and email follow-up. Visitors were toured through Hemlock’s sophisticated digital printing, offset printing and web response facilities. And the hPad video itself is now racking up hits on YouTube.

So how and why would Hemlock use old-school technology to tell the world about their integrated digital offering?

Full disclosure: Unicycle Creative was the agency who partnered with Hemlock on the development of the hPad and hParty theme. The idea began as a beer-lunch quip by Vice President of Client Services Richard Kouwenhoven that rapidly scope-crept into a full-fledged invitation campaign, notebook brochure design, and launch video.

The strength of using such a classic platform is two-fold. First, the Hemlock brand is rooted in fine printing tradition. We felt it was important to affirm print’s place in the marketing mix by showing just how flexible, affordable, reliable and sustainable it really is when compared with digital alternatives. Secondly, we wanted to get attention for Hemlock’s digital strengths with a bit of wit, humour and impact. We felt taking a few lighthearted shots at the latest gadgetry would appeal to the purist tech geeks as much as the traditionalists.

So if you have a brand with a traditional background, don’t be too quick to abandon it. Even if your message itself is highly technical. A thoughtful blend of the old and the new can have even more impact than the latest bright shiny object.

To find out more about their digital print vision and printing services, visit Hemlock.com.

To get your own hPad, go deeper on the hParty1.0 branding, or talk marketing strategy, send me (Lorne Craig) an email here at Green Briefs.

Thanks to Don Barnard for his stellar shooting and editing on the hPad video; and to James Spooner, Peter Clarke and Gord Lord at GGRP for their magnificent sound design.

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