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The consolidation of Procter & Gamble Co.'s print planning and buying at Leo Burnett USA in July has publishers and P&G agency executives divided over whether this is a step forward or back for the magazine industry.

Agencies expressed concerns about the loss of an integrated branding message for the benefit of lower CPMs, while many publishers feared the experiment would not allow for differentiation among editorial products-reducing magazines to commodities.

The package-goods giant has spent $1.16 billion on magazine advertising since 1993, according to Competitive Media Reporting.


"We're sending all our salespeople to negotiating school," quips Times Mirror Magazines' President-CEO Efrem Zimbalist III.

"The consolidation just emphasizes how it is even more important now to be the No. 1 or No. 2 book in the field. You have to be the leader, have to be a must-buy for them. The further down the list a title is, the less important it is for P&G and the less negotiating power the salespeople have," he adds.

Because of the power P&G wields over its agencies, Burnett executives declined to comment; executives at other P&G agencies universally declined to be identified for this article. P&G would only offer its corporate spokeswoman for comment. Magazine industry executives, however, were more forthcoming.


"I don't think consolidation is good for the magazine industry, nor for advertisers unless it's done in a thoughtful way," says Time Inc. President-CEO Don Logan. "Each magazine is unique, with a unique readership that has qualitative values that are very different than a television audience. . .People keep trying to reduce media buying to an eyeball game. That's OK for TV, but not for magazines.

"If you have advertisers just looking to cut costs, then they aren't going to want to hear about that relationship with the reader. If you reduce buying down to a numbers game, then it doesn't allow magazines to get their unique story out," he adds.

A P&G agency media executive, who asked not to be identified, agrees with Mr. Logan.

"People identify themselves with the print they read more so than the TV they watch.*.*.print is not a passive media selection. It's more of an emotional involvement," the executive says. "They're in danger of losing a brand personality and positioning in the marketplace. Someone just has to keep an eye on the brand. They're making decisions with media in mind, not the brand."

"They go for mass rather than class," is how one P&G agency executive described the situation, adding, "It's all about lower CPMs."

Another P&G shop executive concurred, noting P&G is just seeking the maximum exposure for the least cost.

"P&G is not after women 34 to 40 with three-plus kids," he says, adding that the marketer is after the highest possible household penetration.

The consolidation benefits all those involved, says Audrey Siegel, former senior VP-director of print on the P&G account at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising and current senior VP-director of print USA for J. Walter Thompson USA.


"It's a good thing because [P&G] can streamline the process-manage people's time and have less duplication. If you go in negotiating. . .you're going to get a better deal," says Ms. Siegel. "The issue is whether or not you ignore every factor besides price. I don't think Procter does that."

"What we're trying to do here is to get more effective, efficient and spend smarter," says P&G spokeswoman Kristen Hall. "These AOR assignments [for media buying] will simplify and improve the current scheduling, planning and buying processes."

She notes the company stance is that the consolidation benefits all involved-the company, agencies and publishers.


"We can't speak for the publishers, but we tested with just print to see," adds Ms. Hall. "What we learned with the Saatchi & Saatchi print test was you could simplify and streamline and it could benefit everyone involved," she says. "We've got hundreds of brands and this now gives publishers a single point of contact. This gives [publishers] the opportunity to simplify their selling and scheduling. I'm not speaking for them, but wouldn't it help publishers as well? Rather than piecemealing it-they can discern how to best leverage their resources."

Burnett's win followed a then-radical experiment P&G launched in March 1995 by consolidating its planning and buying for women's service magazines at print media buying agency Saatchi & Saatchi. P&G awarded Burnett the print media assignment in January with the transition becoming complete in July.


Historically, P&G had its nine brand agencies handling planning and scheduling for brands while using an AOR for just print buying. In the test, Saatchi had the authority to overrule a brand's magazine selection in the women's service category if the agency saw an opportunity to save money with a similar title selection; the experiment-which included the Seven Sisters plus First for Women and Woman's World-drew criticism from both agencies and publishers.

To achieve P&G's goals, Burnett has 30 to 40 staffers of a nearly 500-person media department working on the account. The print media/ planning AOR is headed by Senior VP-Media Director Renetta McCann. She has 19 years experience in Burnett's media department, formerly working on clients including United Distillers North America-which gave her extensive print-buying experience-Keebler, Fruit of the Loom and McDonald's Corp. She currently oversees all of P&G's planning and buying, and Burnett's Walt Disney Co. business.


Ms. McCann works with Senior VP-Media Director Bob Wisniewski, who oversees planning for 11 brands, for which Burnett also handles the creative. He previously headed up Burnett's Oldsmobile media buying.

Although both Burnett and P&G wouldn't go into details on the process for this story, agency executives describe the arrangement as the following: Each roster shop is said to have a point person who specifically deals with Burnett. One agency executive with knowledge of the situation says there is "very frequent contact" between that P&G agency person and Burnett.

P&G supplies brand agencies with a budget, with those agencies determining the target and objectives. In the normal course of procedure, the brand agencies do not suggest specific magazines. One agency executive says that with other consolidated accounts, the brand agency "gives them a list of magazines and [the media AOR] negotiates."

The executive adds that with P&G, "It's very different" since "the rules are that we don't give them books."


Another agency executive said that from "time to time" the brand agencies will ask Burnett to review publications, which Burnett will do.

Some magazine executives, however, are viewing the increased competitive environment as an opportunity.

"It think it helps magazines, and ultimately is a good thing. It means the people these marketers are going to hire and the people who are making these decisions are magazine experts," says Steve Florio, president-CEO of Conde Nast Publications.

"For example, if Lincoln-Mercury [division of Ford Motor Co.] is looking to reach affluent, upscale readers and Architectural Digest goes in there, there is a pretty good chance that they are going to get the business because that is who they reach" he adds. "That's the kind of logic that will help magazines. I'm very comfortable with that. It just means that less and less will be left to whim. It doesn't matter who gives them the best deal if they don't reach their audience. I believe they will look first for the quality audience, and then try to work the best possible deal."


At Petersen Publishing Co., Claeys Bahrenburg, vice-chairman and chairman of the executive committee, believes media-buying consolidations are shifting publishing companies to concentrate more on corporate sales efforts.

"For companies like P&G. . .the issue of brand equity for them and us has never been more important. So we don't fear that. We think it gives us an opportunity to make buying and selling simpler, easier for the advertisers and for publishers to manage those relationships," he says.

"I also see these consolidations leading to more corporate selling, absolutely. That's why we built the corporate group at Petersen. That kind of selling will

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