Print is a team player. It communicates information, builds awareness, and creates emotional connections. It works alone or in conjunction with digital media. But it’s no longer the superstar it once was. Despite its proven effectiveness and the many advantages it touts, print isn’t always the ideal solution to every communication challenge.

The world is moving fast and digital media has become the rising star. As marketers, communicators and storytellers, we must embrace the channels most appropriate for the given moment.

This was never clearer to me than recently, when I needed to help a message by heard to support the ongoing fight against cancer.

Partnering to fight cancer.FFDP

In December 2014, Xerox Netherlands received a sponsor request through one of our channel Partners, Xtandit, to provide printed magazines during the Alpe d’Huzes. This is an event where volunteers cycle to the top of the world-famous mountain, Alpe d’Huez in France, to raise money for the fight against cancer. The mountain is widely recognized as being one of the main tracks in the Tour de France. In the Netherlands, this event is hugely popular as each year more than 6,000 volunteers participate.

Alpe d’Huzes approached us asking if we (Xerox) could sponsor a printed magazine helping to share the amazing sights and stories from the event. A new edition of the magazine would need to be printed for 6 consecutive days, with each consisting of 24 pages and a minimum of 6,000 copies per day.

But here was the challenge: Each magazine would be created and edited in the evening following that day’s events, and would need to be printed and delivered to all recipients early the next morning. As you can imagine, this could become a real logistical challenge.

After discussions with the organization and design agency (who is also responsible for the magazine artwork and concept), we decided the most logical course of action was to go digital.

Why digital?

You might be thinking to yourself, “Why go digital?” The reason was very simple.

During the Alpe d’Huzes event, there were naturally many who wanted to come out and show their support, but were unable to do so. This includes not only friends, family members and supporters – but also the many men, women and children suffering with cancer. FFDP_2It would have been impossible to share all the sights, sounds and experiences from this incredible event efficiently, cost-effectively and at scale through print media.

But by partnering with Alpe d’Huzes, Xerox and Xtandit were able to leverage the boundless nature of digital media to create an incredibly engaging and interactive digital magazine. Best of all – it was simple!

By using Xerox’s FreeFlow Digital Publisher solution, we created a publication that was easily sharable and highly interactive, including integration with social media, timely video content, access to photo galleries, and links to online articles. FreeFlow Digital Publisher was the perfect tool to make everyone happy.

Behind the scenes.

Turning around 6 publications in 6 days is no small feat. Making it happen took careful planning by the design agency, Buro Toob. In the months leading up to the event, they created a contest for students of the Graphic Arts School of Utrecht. Winners were honored with the opportunity to participate in a traineeship to help make the Alpe d’Huzes magazine. FreeFlow-Digital-Publisher-CTADuring almost a whole week, they worked hard in the French mountains to get each magazine designed, as we like to say in the printing industry, just-in-time. Hats off!

It is not common to use a blog to send thanks and recognition, but in this case, these folks are very deserving. The Alpe d’Huzes event in total raised nearly €11.5 million for the fight against cancer. Everyone who helped make the digital publication happen played a role in achieving this success:

  • Toob Alers and Eveline Verhoeve.
  • The 3 traineeship musketeers: Casper van der Linden, Iris van Kranenburg and Joanne Garbo.
  • And finally, my colleague Norbert Wassink, for all his support!