Telling print’s side of the story

Two Sides grew out of a need to dispel the myths about the environmental credentials of print and paper. Originally driven by the paper industry, it was quickly embraced by printers and other members of the supply chain. Over the past three years, the movement has continued to expand, with activities across Europe and the US. This year, Two Sides Australia has officially launched, bringing to our shores the message about print’s positive environmental story and its relevance as a communication channel.

Graham Morgan Two Sides began in 2008. Where did it start from and what have been some of the key milestones?

Martyn Eustace It started as an initiative of the paper merchants I was working with at the time. We got frustrated with the messages about paper and print destroying the forests – and destroying the rainforests in particular. We had meetings saying somebody should be doing something about it and eventually we said ‘why don’t we do it’. It started as a purely UK initiative and it has grown from there.

The first step was really the engagement of other people in the value chain. First the merchants said ‘we’re going to spend some money’. So as merchants always do, they went to the mills and said ‘you’re our suppliers so we’d like you to match what we’re putting in’. Then the mills put some money in. After that we started getting the major organisations involved, and then the printers, newspapers and the publishers.

The simple journey over the past three years has been to engage as many partners as we can in the whole value chain because there is a realisation that the more we do together the stronger we are, the more effective we become and the cheaper it is for everybody. That’s the simple story.

GM What would be some of the key challenges or key highlights?

ME The key challenge at the beginning was simply to understand what to say. The NGOs have frightened people into saying nothing. You have what Greenpeace and the WWF pronounces and everybody says ‘I can’t go against them because I’m likely to end up the worse for it – and I’m not actually sure what I should say anyway’.

So the first thing we did was to sit down with the leading mills, the people who really understood the forestry issues, and tried to work out what our messages should be. Of course, that involved getting our facts right. We thought we could find some simple facts but there actually weren’t any. We ended up developing ‘simple facts’ arguments and really tried to put some detail behind it so that we could provide some really reliable information for our advertising and for members to pass on without feeling that they might be saying the wrong thing.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) offered to help create the structure. We thought we needed some help in making sure we presented ourselves as a proper and authoritative industry association, or if you like an NGO in our own right. The experience of PwC was crucial.

We tried not to say anything that was going to be taken the wrong way, and to see other people’s point of view – almost disarm the argument by being very open to a lot of what the NGOs were saying.

We decided early on that the only thing we could afford to do was to appeal to the business-to-business market: the people that were buying paper. We did some initial survey work to find out what media buyers were thinking about paper. The clear and overwhelming response was they believed print media was somehow destroying forests, that we weren’t recycling very well, and that when they’re planning marketing work, sustainability was in the front of their minds.

We did some research and devised a series of adverts for the business to business market, and that was really the launch of the campaign in 2008 – the ‘Myths and Facts’ booklet, some simple adverts, and bit of PR and engagement.

GM In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?

ME No, I don’t think so. It took a long time but I can’t see how we could have shortened that. When we roll out to other countries it will be much quicker, because we’ve been through the hard work. We know that we’ve engaged already with the NGOs, we’ve talked to people like WWF and they’ve seen the stuff we’re putting out. I can’t say they’re supportive of it – that’s not their way – but they have no issue with it.

GM You’re in the UK, Europe, the US and now Australia. Does Two Sides operate differently in the different countries?

ME There are cultural differences in Europe but not so much dealing with the environmental message, it’s more how you put it across. The Anglo-Saxon way is pretty direct, pretty straightforward; the Continental way can be different. It’s more of a marketing problem than an environ­mental message problem. The message, which is focused on forestry and recycling, is the same really in every country. 

We end up with material that is the same all over the world because it is an international industry. We pick up things from each other and we benefit from that. So there is a local variation, particularly in terms of the advertising, and of course in Europe, a lot of variations due to different languages and cultures. In the US and UK and Australia, there isn’t so much difference. The issues are largely the same.

In the first series of adverts we had were a bit defensive. We were a little bit unsure of ourselves. We were being very careful not to offend anybody. So after 18 months, we started to go a little bit more on the attack. We did this in terms of our engagement with these billing companies around ‘e-billing’ messages. That’s been a big highlight of the campaign.

I have a great example. [Paper manufacturer] Sappi in South Africa passed a message that they’d received from one of their customers in Mexico. It was from HSBC in Mexico with an awful message about the destruction of the rainforests, the removal of trees, the absence of water, and how all that was being affected by the paper industry, which is why people should get their bills online.

I’d had a meeting with HSBC two weeks before that. They’ve been very engaged with Two Sides. We have discussed ways to reduce their media impact. So I sent that message off to them and within 24 hours they came back to say they’d take action.

One of the highlights of the campaign is moving on from just being a marketing tool to active engagement with people who are saying the wrong things. Like ‘e-billing is better for the environment’. Combatting these anti-print statements is something I really do want to roll out in all countries. We’re doing it in the US and I think it’s something we can do in Australia. By acting internationally we can achieve more than a series of local campaigns.

In the UK, ‘greenwash’ is definitely not allowed and can be stopped because corporates don’t want to be shamed. It’s a similar situation in the US but more complicated. I have no idea about Australia. But ultimately, large corporates cannot afford their reputation to get besmirched so they normally back down because it really isn’t that important. However, with thousands of consumers, they can do a lot of damage to our industry.

GM What are your key aims for Two Sides and will that be the same for Australia?

ME In Europe and the US last year we did a multi-country survey, which gave us some base data about how people area reacting to print media in terms of their preferences. That reinforced the idea that people do think print media is destroying the rainforests.

But, perhaps surprisingly for younger people, 84% said they preferred reading off paper rather than reading off a screen. They prefer to have important documents on paper rather than electronically.

So we got some good publicity out of that but it also gave us some good base data for creating our new business consumer campaign.

GM There are two parts to Two Sides: the environmental side and the marketing side about why print is effective as a medium. With the world shifting so quickly to mobile and the forecasted rise in e-readers and tablet computers, the bigger issue might not be environmental but about consumer choice.

ME We’ve always said the environmental argument is not to say that e-readers are better or that we’re going to persuade people to continue to use print because for some reason we can persuade them it’s a natural product. However, Two Sides does bring out the effectiveness message. In terms of people preferring to read on paper, plenty of people believe – though I’ve seen no hard empirical evidence for it yet – that children learn better if they read traditionally and study off books, rather than e-learning.

But our recent survey actually surprised us by the finding that people, particularly young people, still do want paper. Our role is to tell people that they should choose whichever medium is best for the purpose. Digital is here but the future for print and paper may be stronger than many think.

GM Our country has a lot of very small and medium-sized printing business. How can the average printer, the ProPrint reader, get involved?

ME That’s my problem in the UK. Let’s say probably about 2,500 printers of any significant size, and the majority of them will have a turnover of less than a million pounds. I think that’s why we only have about 85 members. Whereas I can go and talk to the likes of Heidelberg and Kodak and Ricoh and coax some money out of their pockets to put into their campaign, I can’t visit 2,000 printers who want to give me fifty quid. That is really difficult.

But we do have the British Printing Industries Federation over here. They mail out our stuff, we try to engage printers that way. We do the best we can. The postal organisations and the publishers, the bigger companies that can make a difference, it’s best to concentrate on them.

GM One thing all those small people could do, almost for free given that even the smallest printers have a website, is to attach links to the Two Sides website or using some of the information to educate their own customers, even if people can’t spare any money…

ME I think the bigger printers know that and that’s why the ones who have joined are the ones who are probably doing quite well and making money. They understand how the markets, and their roles, are changing. I’m afraid a great vast swathe of the printers are run by a guy who owns the machines. He’s not really thinking very strategically, he doesn’t feel he wants to educate his clients – he’s just happy if they walk through the door and give him a print job.

GM: What advice can you offer Two Sides Australia and the industry on which battles to choose or the order to go in?

ME Start with the Myths & Facts booklet, because that is the bit that printers and everybody can pick up and personalise. We’ve produced so many versions of that. Printers can print it and personalise the cover – though the inner sections remain sacrosanct; they can’t change that. So they pass on the facts and also pass on something about their own sustainability to their clients.

GM Where do you think Two Sides is likely to pop up next?

ME We’ve been working with an organ­isation that has got really good contacts in China. They’re trying to set something up there because even in China there’s a growing environmental movement. It may not be a Two Sides thing, it should be but it might be just the opportunity to give them some advice over there. South America is the other one and India.

GM What is your own personal ultimate vision for Two Sides? Where do you want to see it in three or five years’ time?

ME I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that. I’m hoping it’s still here. I’m hoping it’s still well supported. I’m hoping it’s not a fashion we’re going through because I think there are things to be done. We have to justify our existence by showing that we add value and we add value while there is a problem. So I guess if the problem was solved, then we could no longer add value.

For the moment, it’s not like a corporation where you have to look five years ahead. We’re just looking a year ahead at a time, making sure that we’re addressing the issues that are out there, trying to do a good job, trying to measure what we’re doing so that we can show people that things are changing as a result of our efforts.

It’s really great to see Australia onboard. I think we’ve got the major English-speaking market covered. The role of Australia is really important because you’re a big influence in the Pacific Rim there, and the Pacific Rim has a big influence on your environmental policy, so I think things will emerge in Australia that have not emerged in Europe and the US.



Born: 1951, London

Family: “Two girls and two boys, my wife is Austrian and my dog hates the postman”

Career history

Oct 2008-current: director, Two Sides

Jan 2010-current: sustainability manager, Print Power

Oct 2008-current: managing director, Newvizion Consulting Services

2004- 08: chief executive, Premier Paper Group

1995-2004: chief executive, Howard Smith Paper Group (Paperlinx)

Other roles

Member of Pricewaterhouse-Cooper’s turnaround panel

President of the UK Paper Industry Charitable Trust

Council member of the Paper and Related Industries Marketing Association

Past president of the UK National Association of Paper Merchants

Past member of the board of the European Paper Merchants Association


1972: Bachelor of Science, University of Surrey

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