Print Review: BBC Proms 2018

My copy of the BBC Proms brochure has been on the corner of my desk since season launch, reminding me on a daily basis of something I need to get done if this series of classical music marketing print reviews stands a chance of become more than one post.  

Today is the day then the ‘Print Review’ series truly can be called ‘a series’, because the BBC Proms 2018 brochure is the second such post. Phew.

The Proms brochure. The biggie. The smell. The listings pages. The touch. Long before we get to hear any music, its this publication that has shapes aspirations for the summer ahead. Click To Tweet

For me this, this is the big one. Probably the highly-prized publication job. The one the audiences seemingly go mad for regardless of the actual content of the season it promotes. It’s also a rare one that needs to be purchased. 

And it print terms, I think this one marks a return to the heady days of mid-noughties. Scores first (level pegging with the Royal Academy Summer Season Brochure doncha know), notes underneath. 

BBC PROMS PROGRAMME 2018 Score out 10
Smell ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆
Cover (weight) ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆
Cover (feel) ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Initial impact (colour, weight, smell, feel)  ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
Inside pages (feel) ★★★★★★★★★☆
Inside pages (layout & content) ★★★★★★★★★★
Easily accessible information ★★★★★★★★★★
TOTAL (%) 54/70 (77%)


Tricky. If I compare the smell compared to the previous Print Review I notice that the aroma doesn’t linger long. So on that basis, Royal Academy is scoring higher than the BBC Proms in this category. I’m sorry. That’s just how it is. 

I love the foldy-outy cover – useful. I’m not big on the colours though. Elastoplast orange has never elicited a positive emotional response in me, and – brace, brace – those butterflies really fuck me off. What next? Unicorns and fluffy clouds? Interesting for me is the sub-header “Your guide to the world’s greatest classical music festival” – that nomenclature is potentially a hostage to fortune. More on that story later in the season.  Where the BBC Proms cover scores better is on its ‘feel’ – very schmooth. 

Inside pages (feel)
For some readers this category may be a step too far. But, for those of us old-timers (in management circles read: ‘massive pains in the arse’) the touch of the inside pages evokes memories of Proms seasons past and, importantly, recollections of formative classical music experiences. Where the brochure scores highly is the slightly rough-feeling article pages, plus the stiffer paper concert-listing pages in the middle (the second consecutive year this has featured – a real boon).

Inside pages (layout & content)
In terms of content, I appreciate the extended articles, absorbing photography (the picture of Bernstein writing in his study is tantalising), especially because the majority of the brochure is given over to a whole range of interesting pieces. Obviously, they’re just different marketing exercises designed to flag collections of concerts throughout the season, but even so, they make the publication a must-have.  

I'm not big on the colours though. Elastoplast orange has never elicited a positive emotional response in me, and - brace, brace - those butterflies really fuck me off. What next? Unicorns and fluffy clouds? Click To Tweet

The articles have always been there in previous years, of course, but this year feels as though there’s a marked shift in the quality of the content – less about the showiness of broadcasting and personality-led pieces, more focus on the artists, performers, and composers. Important. 

Accessibility of information
The Proms sets the standard in terms of making information easily accessible, both in its listings pages and in its index.

I’m mildly distracted by the additional design elements – the half-drawn boxes and drop shadows in places, also the flashes at the side of the pages which I’d prefer to be at right angles rather than 45 degrees (I appreciate some will see this as me going a step too far – bite me, don’t deny me). 

The BBC Proms starts on Friday 13 July and runs until Saturday 8 September 2018. Read a season preview on this blog. 

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