May 4, 2005

Print Insists It’s Here to Stay


Here’s a Newsweek cover from 100 years into the future: an aerial view of the United States with California split off from the mainland and floating in the Pacific. The headline: “California Island: More popular than ever 62 years after the Big Quake.” And here’s Sports Illustrated 100 years hence: “Hell Freezes Over! Cubs Win 2105 World Series.”

Source: New York Times

These faux futuristic covers are part of a $40-million, three-year campaign by the magazine industry to win advertisers and try to convince them that magazines, which have existed in the United States for nearly 250 years, are likely to be here for the next 250, come what may. At the same time, the newspaper industry has begun a multimillion-dollar, three-year campaign to make over its image in the eyes of advertisers.

The Newspaper Association of America has hired the Martin Agency of Richmond, Va. – whose clients include United Parcel Service, Geico and Miller beer – to help change the perception of newspapers from stodgy to contemporary.

The Magazine Publishers of America hired HotSpring, a brand development company in New York, for ideas on how the industry could reposition itself and the ad agency Fallon New York to reach the advertising industry. This is the first time that magazines have joined together in a large-scale marketing effort.

It is no secret: Print feels threatened as never before. Newspapers and magazines may have complained when radio and television came along. But they seem to be in full panic mode now as readers and advertisers flock to the Internet.

With their advertising campaigns, poor old print is declaring that it’s not going to take it anymore.

“Enough!” John Kimball, chief marketing officer for the Newspaper Association of America, said in an interview. “You read things that the industry is dead, that the Internet is eating our lunch, that everyone is watching television, that national advertising is declining in the major metros.”

“But the medium is very strong,” Mr. Kimball said. “There are lots of ads in the papers, and not because those people think they’re making a charitable contribution. They’re investing in the medium because it’s delivering results.”

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