There are several important considerations that have impacted the branding activity ("Is it bye-bye time for big branding?" July 10, page 10).
First, with the economic difficulties of 2000 through 2004, much product development was dedicated to minor evolutionary improvements, with a resulting commoditization of products. Correspondingly, the distinctiveness of the brand began to wane, requiring more effort on the part of marketing to at least attempt to support some perception of distinctiveness.
With the healthier environment of the past two years, companies are aggressively pursuing new-product development, looking for significant new products rather than just trying to maintain pace with the competition. This change in our clients has also had the side effect of channeling more marketing effort into new-product than brand support.
When opportunity knocks, check its ID
Thank you for publishing Jim Alkon's excellent op-ed ("Publishers should get marketers to abandon their pay-for-play mentality," July 10, page 11). As the manager of the marketing and communications department for an international company in the oil and gas industry, nothing irritates me more than publishers and advertising sales representatives who act as if they are doing me or my company a favor and allowing us to purchase an advertisement in order to receive a "free editorial." Publishers need to be very careful of this practice.
If publishers begin to fill their publications with "paid editorials," the editorial quality of their publications decreases substantially. And poor editorial quality leads to fewer readers finding value in the publication, which leads to lower circulation numbers, which impacts advertising revenue. It's a vicious cycle, and I have seen several publishers-and too many advertisers to count-fall into this trap.
What's even more disheartening is that I probably receive between five and eight calls or e-mails every month from different publishers trying to sell me on an opportunity such as this. Hopefully, your piece will be a wake-up call to them.
Manager, marketing & communications
Pay-for-play fortune still favors advertisers
Thanks for publishing Jim Alkon's excellent opinion article. It's amazing to me that this crucial topic has not received more attention overall.
I'd like to add a perspective from the editorial side. You know, the issue is not only about literally paying for editorial coverage. There is also a massive gray area involving editorial decisions on content that deals with advertisers (or nonadvertisers).
Let's say a magazine's biggest advertiser requests a sit-down with the editor at an industry event. That's a no-brainer; of course he does it.
But then, let's say the information the editor receives is of marginal value to his audience. While he could make a case for including it, an objective decision might be not to run an article on this company, or else run something brief.
And yet the fact is that the vast majority of editors are more likely to write an article about a customer than a noncustomer, and are likely to give the article better play than they would otherwise. Anyone who thinks otherwise is in denial.
In this case, the advertiser has not actually paid for play, but the ingrained pay-for-play mind-set has influenced the result anyway.
Editor in chief