|Photo: Doug Goodman|
|Now is the time for the magazine industry to go on the offensive, said Thomas O. Ryder, chairman-CEO of the Reader's Digest Association and chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America
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Publishers made no bones about the problems they face, including circulation woes, a still-uncertain ad climate, looming postal-rate hikes and the specter of losing their share of ad dollars to the twin media of the moment, cable TV and the resurgent Web.
New industry ad campaign
But at the same time, they were energized by a just-announced $40 million campaign, courtesy of Publicis Groupe's Fallon, New York, designed to market their medium, as well as by a host of hot rhetoric from industry executives coalescing around one point: the need of magazines to compete more effectively against TV. A stream of speakers today said the industry must better capitalize on the unique kind of "engagement" magazines share with their readers.
"The time is right for us to go on the offensive," said Thomas O. Ryder, chairman-CEO of the Reader's Digest Association and chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America, pointing to "weakness in TV." Specifically, he and a number of other industry executives said magazine readers are engaged with the medium and, most notably, they tend to consider advertising a part of a magazine's editorial fabric. This, of course, stands in contrast to how ads are viewed on TV and the Internet, which these executives said are often either TiVo'd or zapped into oblivion.
"You guys should have your chests stuck out" over this fact, said Donny Deutsch, chairman-CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, in a presentation that ended this morning's session. Were he selling magazine ads, he said, "I would, right now, be so arrogant" about selling a media in which the ads were "bulletproof."
'Not seated at main table'
"Our problem," said Jack Kliger, president-CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media US, is that "magazines as a media are not seated at the main table" when broader marketing decisions are being made. Mr. Kliger is spearheading an intra-industry group, the Magazine Marketing Coalition, that formed early this year and involves top executives from virtually all of the industry's biggest players.
Anne Bologna, president of ad agency Fallon, unveiled the anxiously awaited ad campaign, which carries the tagline "Read on" and stresses the staying power of magazines in a bewildering futuristic world, with the following legend on print executions: "[copyright] 2015 Magazine Publishers of America."
The executions feature readers in almost unrecognizable futuristic settings -- save for the familiar way they're hunched over a magazine. Part of the campaign places well-known magazine brands into the sci-fi realm, like a cover of Hearst Magazines' Cosmopolitan depicting a robotic figure with the headline "FemBorg RH7 and the mainframe she loves."
'Playbot' and 'Clone Fancy'
A guerilla-esque grace note to the campaign comes from ads patterned after magazines' ubiquitous blow-in subscription come-ons, which on one side are addressed to the likes of "Playbot" and "Clone Fancy." (And, perhaps inevitably, one cover line offers a future look at Advertising Age: "Bogusky Still Refuses To Reveal Secret of Youth," an insider's reference to the boyish looks of Crispin Porter & Bogusky's executive creative director, Alex Bogusky.)
"Magazines deserve to be considered cool," said Ms. Bologna, who describes herself as a "magazine junkie."
In one potential sign of the increased coolness of magazines, the MPA reported this year's convention attendance to be around 555, up almost 10%, from 500 last year.