Apparently, leaders of five major magazine companies—Charles H. Townsend, Condé Nast; Cathie Black, Hearst Magazines; Jack Griffin, Meredith Corporation; Ann Moore, Time Inc.; and Jann Wenner, Wenner Media—have launched a massive print advertising campaign “to promote the vitality of magazines as a medium.” “The Power of Print” campaign, as it’s called, was launched on March 1, 2010 at the Leadership/Media Conference in San Francisco.
With the full support of the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), the campaign targets advertisers, shareholders and industry influencers, and seeks to reshape the broader conversation about magazines, challenge misperceptions about the medium’s relevancy and longevity, and reinforce magazines’ important cultural role.
Towards this goal, several splashy color spreads were created and began running in May in hundreds of popular magazines. The campaign logo which combines the distinct typography of 8 of the most well-known magazines of the 5 major companies also made its debut in May issues alongside these catchy slogans: “We Surf the Internet. We Swim in Magazines.” and “Will the Internet Kill Magazines? Did Instant Coffee Kill Coffee?”
Many bloggers, like this San Francisco Weekly blogger, view the campaign as desperate grandstanding by the print media establishment, a last grasp effort by an industry that has been on a downward spiral for years – let’s face it, that comparison of the Internet to instant coffee isn’t going to win over any bloggers and the idea that print magazine readers are national heroes like Olympian record-breaker Michael Phelps?? Yet I am intrigued by the campaign’s main talking points especially in light of the amazing discussion that continues to unfold on Threadbared about the perceived value of print magazines and blogs:
- Magazine readership has risen 4.3% over the past five years (Source: MRI Fall 2009, Fall 2005 data)
- Average paid subscriptions reached nearly 300 million in 2009 (Source: MPA estimates based on ABC first half 2009 and second half 2009 data)
- Adults 18-34 are avid magazine readers. They read more issues and spend more time per issue than their over-34 counterparts (Source: MRI Fall 2009 data)
- During the 12-year life of Google, magazine readership increased 11% (Source: MRI Fall 2009 data)
- Magazine effectiveness is growing. Ad recall has increased 13% over the past five years. Action-taking—based on readers recalling specific ads—increased by 10%. (Source: Affinity’s VISTA Print Effectiveness Rating Service, 2005-2009)
- Magazines outperform other media in driving positive shifts in purchase consideration/intent. (Source: Dynamic Logic)
Anyone else as surprised by these figures as I am? I wonder which magazines people are still reading and subscribing to? My sense – from friends and you, dear readers – is that alternative and self-published fashion magazines (many of which are ad-free, on principle or not) are gaining popularity while corporate magazines are on the wane.
Anyway, the campaign’s got my attention although it will probably need to redouble its digital efforts to reach folks like me who’ve canceled their subscriptions to mainstream magazines. (I discovered the campaign while flipping through a men’s fashion magazine – not mine.) But if the YouTube video they created is any indication of the campaign’s cool quotient (or potential to catch on), they’re in trouble. I think a video of talking heads does the campaign a disservice, making magazines seem as stiff and stodgy as their advocates. Also, Charles Townsend should. stop. emphasizing. every. word. he. says.