The Personal Nature of Marketing in Print


I’m sixteen years old.

My sister walks into the kitchen and dumps the mail on the table while I’m sitting at the island counter.

A brightly-colored catalog peeps out from underneath a pile of white envelopes.

Image from Athleta's "The Power of She" campaign (PRNewsFoto/Athleta)

I snag it by the corner and drag it out. Two women in yoga poses grace the front under a bold title: Athleta. Power of She. I leave the kitchen, catalog tucked under my arm, and head upstairs taking the steps two at a time. 

I drop onto the carpet, lean back against the metal bed frame, and settle in. 

The women stare out out from the cardstock-like pages with an enviable determination and confidence. They are sweaty and their bodies exude visibly tensed muscles. 

Maybe I can go on that run after all. 

But why try? It’s not worth it when you’re just gonna screw up again, the box of donuts from last night hisses in my head. 

I hesitate but then look down again at those women and, for a brief moment, feel part of a broader community of female athletes. 

I stash the catalog on top of a growing pile of previous issues resting under my nightstand. 

My feet slip into my running shoes quietly. I lace up and head out. 

As a highschooler, Athleta’s print catalog never failed to grab my attention, to inspire and encourage me. It sat under my nightstand like an immutable sentinel, accessible whenever I needed it. It spoke to my personal fears and struggles by providing—albeit momentarily and partially—a sense of belonging and strength, a glimmer of community.

But month after month I rescued the catalog out of the mail pile with hungry, expectant hands.

There was something about it that felt like a letter addressed only to me, right when I needed it. It spoke into my story in a way other advertisements did not. The catalog was a whisper to my discouraged, shame-riddled mind in a world loud with contextless information and voices. 

As technology progresses, the possibilities for digital marketing continue to open up and expand. Now, I am not advising that you throw all your digital-media marketing campaigns out the window. In a technology-saturated era, that would indeed leave you with neither the bath water nor the baby.

Digital marketing should not be utilized to the exclusion of print. Single-media marketing greatly lessens the potential for forging powerful, lasting, personal connections.