Magazine conference notes

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Executives at the American Magazine Conference in Boca Raton, Fla., were told Monday they can expect more, not less, coordinated media planning from the decentralizing General Motors Corp. Philip Guarascio, VP-general manager of marketing and advertising for GM's North American Operations, said, "An important aspect of the new brand management system will be to put together a more common, more state-of-the-art media plan." He added: "We think print could play a much stronger role in a macro sense over 10 years."

Hollywood's video-driven Dream Team--Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg--had generally reassuring words for the print-oriented crowd. Mr. Spielberg said: "Once online media starts to move and talk like TV, it will be a threat to other media. That's still eight to 10 years away." Plus, Mr. Spielberg added: "Print will always be portable." The year-old DreamWorks SKG trio said it has 16 films in development, has produced a record album by George Michael and has developed the TV series "Chance." But none of its pending projects are in the print realm, nor do they foresee that being so. "We don't have any expertise there; we don't do magazines," said Mr. Geffen.

Judith L. Beaudry, associate director of media/print for Procter & Gamble Co., urged magazines to do a better job of measuring their impact with consumers. "We really believe that data is the potential tool that is lacking to really drive this business," she said. "We've increased our print advertising spending this year. We would increase it more if we could really show our product managers that print works for them." She urged a "new and higher level" of accountability. "We think that the industry is at a disadvantage in terms of the timeliness of the data. You can get television data the next morning ... it's time to catch up, let alone get ready for the new wave of media."

Hearst Magazines President D. Claeys Bahrenburg, installed Monday as chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America, called for greater ethnic diversity in the magazine industry. "The composition of magazine industry executives does not reflect the changing ethnic, racial and gender mix of magazine readerships," he said. "The industry must have people who can publish and edit magazines for the real world in order to ensure a prosperous future."

Other MPA officers elected to one-year terms were Francis P. Pandolfi, chairman, Times Mirror Magazines, vice-chairman; Steven T. Florio, president, Conde Nast Publications, treasurer; Thomas M. Kenney, president, U.S. Magazine Publishing, Reader's Digest Association, secretary.

Raymond W. Smith, chairman-CEO of Bell Atlantic, sounded a three-point alarm for traditional magazine publishers: 1) Distribution is undergoing a revolution of Guttenbergion proportions; 2) The new media will require new skills that were previously considered other people's responsibility; 3) Waiting means failure. Also, Mr. Smith predicted that an omnibus telecommunications bill has a 70% chance of passage this year, and 90% next year. "The compromises have been worked out," he said.

Christie Hefner, just in from China and London, brought plenty of good news: Playboy's current issue is a big hit featuring Farrah Fawcett and a first-ever fashion ad from Calvin Klein (Joel West) in Calvin's underwear best, plus the magazine's first videogame advertising, a spread from Sega. Also, Playboy TV launched last week in the U.K.

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