The New Yorker

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Discovery.  

Radhika Jones was named editor in chief of Vanity Fair magazine yesterday. Vanity Fair is a literary brand with few global peers. Magazine brands like The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have a history of long standing editors, people who sit atop the title for decades. Great magazines get branding. When asked about her plans for Vanity Fair she says she will spend her initial time in discovery.  Immersing. Acculturating. Learning the love.

New GE CEO John Flannery, on the other hand, already has a plan.  Cut, cut, pare.  His board, unlike that of Conde Nast or parent Advanced Publications, expect action not discovery.

Brand planning is a business about discovery. Maybe that’s why, as a business, it offers small category revenue. If you were to add up the revenue of all the branding firms in the world, you’d find maybe $95 million per annum. And if you parsed those bills the lion’s share of that money would likely fall to logo design, naming, style guides and advertising grist. The puniest slice of the pie being discovery.

Brand churn is a result of poor discovery. Advertising and marketing directors “come and go, a powerful brand idea is indelible.”  It all starts with thoughtful and committed discovery. Anyone can slap paint on a canvas. Planned, extensible relevance takes time.

Peace.   

 

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Food Addictions.

Food is big business.  And not just the selling of it, we know how big that is.  Just look at all the restaurant and grocery stores in your town. But food has now become an important content area too.  Magazine publishing is way off. Way off. Without food related properties, there would be Car And Driver, Sports Illustrated, Better Homes and Garden, The New Yorker and that’s it.  Bucking the trend, Walmart and Hearst launched a magazine called Delish late last year. It’s all about food and doing well. People are into food.

The number of TV shows about food preparation is growing. Many chefs are more famous than news reporters. One third of U.S. adults are obese.  Food.

What our nation needs, however, is an obsession with healthy food.  What is healthy food? In what part of the store does it reside (the outside walls, typically)?  We also need to change our palettes. Our expectation of what is tasty.  Today the masses crave sugar and salt.  The country would alter the course of healthcare were it to remove these cravings from the national palette. Rather than clothe ourselves in 650 million yards of fabric each year, we could shrink that to 450 million yard – with slimmer figures. The billions in Medicare spent on diabetes would shrink — as would our dependence on blood pressure med. Dominoes all tied to the collective palette of Americans. Our taste in clothes and hair change, why can’t we change our addiction to sugar and salt? Oh, and there’s a market for it. Peace.

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Twitch Point Planning is a communications planning technique I discuss with clients to get them to “understand, map and manipulate” media consumption in a way that moves viewers closer to a sale.  Twitch Points are called such because today’s tools make it way too easy to multitask and twitch away from one media form to another.  Un-planned, this can be a bad thing.  Planned, it is a good thing.

I was reading about Conde Naste’s biggest iPad success today, with The New Yorker magazine. 75,000 paid magazine subscribers have downloaded the iPad app and 20,000 people are subscribing via the app alone. As one looks at the behavior of The New Yorker readers (the first part of understand, map and manipulate) it is clear that these readers are there to read. They don’t want to twitch away to Wikipedia to look up authors, or watch YouTube videos of punk bands inspired by the authors.  Readers of The New Yorker want to read and don’t care to be spammed away. So, here’s an iPad app for New Yorker readers:  automatically send incoming calls to voicemail.  Hee hee. Peace!

 

 

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