In saying it now wants no early notice, written or verbal, Chrysler did throw in a caveat: It may reduce magazine spending going forward, presumably cutting support for certain titles that don't meet its editorial criteria. That's bad news for some publishers, but good news for the industry overall, and for editors in particular.
Chrysler has every right to decide where to spend its ad dollars and what represents an appropriate editorial environment for its marketing messages. Its new policy allows it to do that without improperly pressuring magazines to soften their editorial products.
We earlier criticized in this space a joint Magazine Publishers of America/American Society of Magazine Editors statement on editorial independence for not going far enough. While we still believe the statement fell short in addressing some of the subtle pressures magazines deal with every day, we also congratulate the groups and applaud the statement's effectiveness, since it played a key role in Chrysler's decision.
Chrysler has gone first. Other advertisers that still place unreasonable demands on magazines now need to shift gears.
It's only natural longtime brand managers-or at least the many, many marketing executives who grew up in the fertile fields of Procter & Gamble Co.-would decry the changing duties and stature of that long-celebrated job. But, really, not to worry.
At P&G, brand management has long been the route to the top-most of its CEOs served there at one time or another on their way up.
With competing brands within categories, these executives ran their "businesses": deciding strategy and ad copy, promotions, media plans and more. But things change. And P&G is not the only major marketer to recognize this.
With multiple, competing brands, category management came into being to properly allocate resources. And, of course, there was the new sophistication of retailers. And then came the globalization of brand marketing.
This isn't bad news; it's evolution. As a former P&G brand manager related in Advertising Age last week, some of the advertising and media duties of a person in that position were "a poor use of their time."
We understand the sadness some feel, given the experience young-and onwardly mobile-executives obtained for their resumes. As our story noted, P&G traditionally gave these people the best media training in the business-something not lost on future employers. But the brand manager's new role as "a multifunctional team leader," rather than a detail-oriented planner of day-to-day activities, is almost certainly going to put greater CEO potential into the