Dell Cancels Back-Cover Ads on Magazines

PC Maker Looks to Optimize Online and Offline Media Mix

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NEW YORK ( -- Dell has pulled out of its long-term contracts to run ads on the back covers of business magazines including Fortune and The Economist, a retreat that only underscores magazines' vulnerability during this recession. Philips Electronics took the place of Dell on the back cover of Fortune's Dec. 8 issue, but only committed to a single issue.

Last year Dell spent slightly more than $548 million in measured media, with $52 million going to magazines and $114 more going to newspapers' Sunday magazines.

Move follows Macy's cancellations
Of course, Dell's pullout reflects circumstances particular to the PC maker, which Global Marketing VP Casey Jones left last month. But the broader recession is also combining with the challenges posed by digital media to put pressure on all media channels to prove their immediate worth. Macy's recently canceled all the magazine advertising it had planned to buy in the first half of 2009, apparently calculating that the return wouldn't justify the investment in this environment.

Dell hasn't gone that far, but its reasons for undoing some long-term back-cover commitments will not encourage magazine publishers. "This is part of our ongoing efforts to optimize our marketing dollars and our mix of offline vs. online advertising," a Dell spokeswoman said.

Dell and its new agency, Enfatico, were spotted over the summer re-examining Dell's expensive back cover buys at magazines including BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fortune and The Economist. The magazines and Enfatico all either declined to comment or did not respond to inquiries.
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