magazine publishers of america

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One of the most exciting yet scariest jobs in the world is probably CMO of the Magazine Publishers of America.  The MPA is an association funded by competing print and online properties that fight one another harder than the GOP and Dems at holiday time.  To say the magazine business is changing would be an understatement.  But to a great extent, it is also staying the same.  All that’s changing is what’s delivered and how.  Brilliant photo journalism is still required but now must include video.  Great writing, analysis and thought leadership still win that day – but there is a lot more competition (bloggers) and algorithmic noise.

Readers twitch more today than ever before, requiring magazine publishers to anchor them to their sites.  And advertises, the lifeblood of the magazine business, are becoming enamored of publishing and content creation. And don’t forget magazines are made from trees, not a particularly forward thinking resource. (Though probably more renewable than circuit boards.)

Herding the powerful magazine cats out of the marble hallway is a challenge. It requires someone who has more power than the cats themselves. Someone who commands respect. Probably not an ink-stained patriarch, but someone with mad vision. Someone who can see beyond the dashboard. Who the Lewis and Clark is?   If you thought being CEO of Yahoo was tough, keep your eyes on this search. Peace.

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The Apple Table launches today and it makes me think about its transformational nature.  If the tablet is a combination of reader and iTouch as most report, with a few extra wireless bells and whistles, it should be quite so. 

Some articles appeared yesterday that suggested print media companies will be developing reader experiences (RE – just make that up) to make reading digital content more enjoyable.  Think the printed word with sound, video and geo-linking.  But here’s my prediction — rather than embedding links in situ in a story, they will be organized at the end of the story or chapter, like a bibliography.  The written word needs a flow and pacing. A thought stream.  In both magazines and book form.  Clicking out to videos, communities, maps, audio files, etc. while reading is a very ADD and though something we’ve become accustomed to in the digital world, a behavior that good publishers will want to minimize. 

 There will be great attention paid to Reader Experience over the next couple of years.  It should be interested to see who establishes leadership.  I’m thinking the MPA (Magazine Publishers of America) should step up.  Tablet ho. Peace!

Photomontage: Robert Galbraith/Reuters

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The new Intel campaign by Venables Bell and Partners sounds a bit unfocused. The idea behind the campaign “Sponsors of Tomorrow” sounds good enough, though a couple of years ago the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) did something similar through Toy-NY which was a bit trite. Intel’s campaign, according to reports, has three different executional ideas which makes it messy:  Portraying Intel R&D people as rock stars, comparing the Intel culture to popular culture ("our clean room isn’t like your clean room"), and showing what the future will be like thanks to Intel (a digital campaign). That’s three ideas, one tagline.  


The new McDonald’s McCafé advertising from DDB, Chicago, on the other hand, is based on a very tight idea. And a powerful idea. When you buy a McCafé beverage, it transforms wherever you are into a café, highlighted by a visual accent popping up on the “e” of the location name. (A commute turns into a commuté, for instance.) Pairing this graphic idea with amazingly lush film of the coffee takes the viewer out of greasy burger heaven and into – in the mind at least — an aromatic French café. Simple. Focused. Evocative. About the product. Peace.   


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The Magazine Publishers of America is once again running an ad campaign to reverse ad page declines. The Fallon-NY work for the MPA run in 2005 was goofy and strategically off the mark creating futuristic portraits of how magazines will still be around when our dogs are robots. Mullen had the account for a bit and it, too, missed the strategic mark.
Anne Bologna and Ari Merkin, previously of Fallon-NY and now at their nice shop Toy, are taking another crack at it. Using that humorous sensibility that works so well for their client Oxygen Network, Toy has created an MPA campaign called “under the influence.”  Unfortunately, it feels to me like just another trade campaign targeting media buyers with an efficacy message. It’s a campaign that jumps right to the end game: print ads work. It is a new twist on the advertising that the radio association, newspaper association, outdoor association, etc., have been doing for years. 
The problem is people aren’t reading magazines; they are too busy, with too many other choices. The MPA campaign needs to get people to change their behavior — to make an appointment to spend time with magazines. And what are magazines? They are colorful, in-depth, analyses by brilliant writers who enrich and enlighten. Magazines make us smart, current, and provide stimulating thoughts. This is what the campaign needs to convey. I know Toy gets this. Sadly, the MPA’s paying constituents want a trade campaign that tells media buyers that magazines get results.    

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