Tortoise and hare

Slow vs. Fast Media

Back in 1986, McDonald’s was planning to open up a store in Rome at the PIazza di Spagna and the renowned Spanish Steps. In uncharacteristically clumsy fashion, a campaign was launched where a headline, roughly translated, read something like “Finally, good food comes to Italy.” (I paraphrase, so don’t sue me if it goes astray, to quote Prince.) You can imagine how viscerally Italians reacted to the notion of insulting their cuisine, and to the prospect of Italians eating fast food in a culture that prides itself on its cooking.

Italians didn’t merely picket, they set up kiosks and tables at the Spanish Steps where they served home cooked meals, in opposition to the horrors of fast food. And so, the Slow Food movement was born, which now includes an organization with over 100,000 members in branches spread over 150 countries and growing. It’s a movement that emphasizes the joys of fresh ingredients plucked by your hand at the market, cooked by you over the course of a day or evening, and savoured slowly in the presence of your friends and family. The way food was meant to be enjoyed.

I tell you this story not to make a point about food (I love Italian cuisine AND McDonald’s fries, by the way), but to make an analogy to another growing trend that has been captured and championed by such thought leaders as Tyler Brûlé of Monocle and Winkreative: Slow Media. Just as Slow Food is a response to the superficiality and potential lack of nutritional value of fast food, so too Slow Media is about media that has depth, substantive content, lasting value.

Slow Media can be a branded magazine that brings fresh ideas and perspectives on travel to the guests of a hotel chain, such as the recent innovation called Renaissance Hotels, by Marriott. In each room, you’ll find a beautiful publication that not only contains many of the destinations where Renaissance has a hotel, but gorgeous photography and well-written articles about places and people near those properties.

Slow Media can come in the form of a thought leading content play such as Monocle 24, the 24-hour radio station where you can enjoy interviews of leading urbanists, thinkers and designers. Or it can be a website such as where you can view beautiful films about how to tie a bowtie, or fashion a turban (if you’re a wealthy Sikh entrepreneur, for example), vs. merely ‘shop’.

The use of Slow Media doesn’t mean you relinquish Fast Media, such as social media and short news bursts. But it can balance one’s diet, allowing for a brand experience that is far more meaningful, deeper, lasting. Slow Media elicits deeper conversations, as it gives you more to chew on. It stays with you, and sometimes you can even pick it up and put in your briefcase. Or leave it on your coffee table for months, to be enjoyed by anyone who visits your abode.

– W.