Magazine Event Rallies The Troops

It was a call to arms as well as a call to "lay down your arms" that rang out from Hearst Magazine executive vice president Michael Clinton at Tuesday's New York Magazine Day.

Clinton gave the keynote at the event and urged all sides in the planning, buying and selling sides of the magazine business to work together toward what he saw as a "new magic" era for the magazine business. That era, he said, will see magazines compete effectively with the Tivo-addled world of TV.

"TiVo scares TV people," said Clinton. "In our business you have the simple and powerful fact that the consumer has made a commitment to the product. At the end of the day they have put their hard earned money on the table for the magazine that they want and in all but a few instances that's not true in other media. Our universe is a lot bigger and when you're vying for attention in this world that $3 or $3.50 makes all the difference."

Clinton also urged an end to the negative selling among competitive magazines that makes us "our own worst enemies." He urged magazine sellers to stop selling "against each other and spend more time fighting for each other." At the same time he railed against brands and agencies who have increasingly gone toward the "jump ball" practice of announcing they will give a campaign to only one magazine.

"They they sit back and watch the carnage," he said. He called the practice "cancerous."

Clinton listed the main challenges facing the business as increasing newsstand distribution, increasing subscriptions and fighting ad price pressures. Those topics were picked up at other seminars during the day. A seminar covering "The Perks Of Partnership" showed that key magazines and brands were protecting price pressure by increasing licensing deals and forming partnership deals between print media and brands.

Unilever media services VP Brad Simmons told the panel that brands at his company occasionally look to what he called "activation platforms" where it can form a deeper connection with a magazine. For example, the Dove brand decided it would focus on "inner beauty" as such a platform and identified a project called "Heroes Among Us" to get it done several women's magazines.

"I don't know if we would have done this (campaign) otherwise," Simmons said.