Tag Archives: advertising

“The Power of Print”

25 Apr

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Happily flipping through my (ever-increasing) stack of magazines on my coffee table this weekend, I couldn’t help but notice an intriguing ad in both InStyle (published by Time Inc.) and the New Yorker (published by Conde Nast):

Hmm…magazines…advertising about magazines in…magazines? In direct competition against the Internet? Fascinating.

Taking out two full page ads is no small (or inexpensive) undertaking. I investigated further and came across the official press release from March 1, 2010, that announced the “Magazines, The Power of Print” advertising campaign. The top five magazines publishers — Conde Nast, Hearst Magazines, Time Inc, Meredith Corporation and Wenner Media — have joined forced “to promote the vitality of magazines as a medium.” According to the release, the campaign will launch in the May issues (or April 5 issues for weeklies) in nearly 100 magazines and on each of the publishers’ websites. The campaign will run for seven months and reach 112 million magazine subscribers. The release lists several objectives for the campaign:

  • Target advertisers, shareholders and industry influencers
  • Seeks to reshape the broader conversation about magazines
  • Challenge misperceptions about the medium’s relevancy and longevity (emphasis mine)
  • Reinforce magazines’ important cultural role

While emphasizing these messages, the release also includes statistics about magazine readership. Most interesting to me is that magazine readership has increased 11% since Google launched 12 years ago. Yet the campaign is employing headlines such as “We Surf the Internet. We Swim in Magazines” and “Will the Internet Kill Magazines? Did Instant Kill Coffee?” The latter slogan is a deliberate play-on-words, implying that the instantaneousness of the Internet — while legitimate — does not replace the quality or importance of magazines.

Here is another version of the ad:

In this video, the five publishers discuss the ad campaign:

Clearly, the print industry feels that the need to promote itself is crucial. Ironically, the ad campaign is not print-only — there is a strong digital component (see YouTube video above) and even the press release has downloadable photos. I think the magazine titans are correct in that the industry isn’t going to completely disappear, despite their claims of journalistic integrity against the millions of bloggers (myself included — I don’t claim to be a journalist by any means, nor do I hope my opinions will be referenced as anything other than a blogger’s single opinion). However, the industry MUST CHANGE in order to keep up with the Internet and mobile devices. All of these magazines already have iPad versions in place or in preparation. So I believe this campaign isn’t as much about magazines COMPETING against the Internet as much as COMPLEMENTING it as a different medium.

Personally, I love magazines. The tangible feeling of flipping through pages cannot be duplicated (no matter how cool the iPad is). Even though I may be able to read the same articles on the web for free, I will keep my subscriptions. I read magazines while I’m drying my hair. I read magazines on the plane, at the coffee shop, waiting for the doctor, while getting mani/pedis. These are rituals that I will not give up. And I didn’t need an advertising campaign to tell me so.

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Super Bowl SearchStories

8 Feb

This is what I know about Super Bowl Sunday: it is the only time I will 1) proactively watch football and 2) proactively watch ads. I’m not anti-football. I’m just not that into it (unless, of course, the Bears are playing…then I’m moderately more interested). I knew that the Colts were playing the Saints, that Peyton Manning is the Colts QB and former Trojan Reggie Bush plays for the Saints (and dates Kim Kardashian).

After reading an article in the New York Times on Sunday morning, I was very excited about the possibility of seeing an ad for Google during the 3rd quarter. According to the article, Google makes more money from advertising than any other media company in the world, but has not traditionally promoted it’s own brand. I absolutely loved the “search story” that told, through search queries, how a boy goes to study abroad in Paris, falls in love, moves to Paris, gets married and has a baby. Beautiful, simple, and less than a minute. In addition to demonstrating Google’s search capabilities, the ad speaks directly to how we can tell life stories through information searches.

There are currently seven Google SearchStory ads on YouTube, each detailing a different emotionally-charged story while highlighting how Google allows the story to unfold. Here is an ad about planning a road trip that does an amazing job of showing Google Map features:

Examining the Super Bowl as an institutional apparatus that creates an intense escalation of media activities across industries, the various advertisements, sports commentator descriptions, pre-game and halftime show antics surrounding celebrities, and overall emphasis on American patriotism seem to convey distinct messages to the television and online audiences. As Scott Sles noted in his blog post that CBS denied running an ad by the gay dating site ManCrunch, much can be suggested about the interaction between television broadcasting, programming and cultural values. Google’s ad — along with ads for Vizio’s Internet Apps and the infamous GoDaddy.com domain site — show the prominence of brand marketing strategies for online services across other media. As the Super Bowl is the most watched television show each year, our cultural values are moving online. Google’s slogan says it all: “search on.” Use your tv to search the Internet. Use Google for planning your life. Use YouTube, Flickr and Twitter to share your stories (through Vizio’s service, of course). Just as the television served as information’s gateway, now TV is telling us to go online.

And just for fun, here was my other favorite Super Bowl ad. Leave it to the Simpsons (with Coke as a sponsor) to tackle the poor economy in a lighthearted, relevant way. (Yes, I used “tackle” on purpose.)