Mag Bag: 'Green' Issues Don't Sell More

eco-green"Green" Issues Don't Sell More

Green hacks do not equal greenbacks. Despite the appearance of public concern for the environment, magazines with cover stories about environmental subjects are not read more widely than the average, according to new research by Mediamark Research & Intelligence, based on a survey of data collected through its issue-specific readership study. In fact, the environment might even be a turnoff.

The magazines with green issues tracked by MRI from 2006-2008 included Wired, The Economist, Popular Science, Car and Driver, Automobile, Metropolitan Home, Newsweek, Time, Vanity Fair, Bridal Guide, Modern Bride, Elle, BusinessWeek, Consumer Reports, Forbes and Scientific American.

Of nine big consumer magazine issues with green themes or cover stories in 2006, MRI found that 67% performed worse than average in their six-month readership; in 2007, half of 24 issues with green themes or cover stories did worse than average; and in 2008, 52% of 21 similarly themed issues did worse than average. The only standouts in terms of audience gains were magazines that covered green issues in connection with a core service message. For example, issues of Bridal Guide and Modern Guide that advised readers about "green" weddings enjoyed audience bumps of 24% and 38%, respectively. Another winner was Metropolitan Home, which saw an audience increase of 15% for a special themed issue called "Renovation Goes Green and Gorgeous."

The losers were those magazines that approached environmental topics from a general, purely informational perspective -- perhaps indicating that American readers are experiencing "issue fatigue," resulting from over-saturation by negative information. For example, in 2008 Elle and Vanity Fair issues with a general "green" theme both stumbled. MRI senior vice president for marketing and strategic planning Anne Marie Kelly remarked: "General stories about the environment and global warming just don't seem to resonate that well with the general public."

Polls have shown that Americans' concern about the environments tends to come and go, depending on the circumstances. Environmental issues usually take a back seat to economic trouble. In March 2008, Gallup found that 49% said they would choose saving the environment over economic growth, versus 42% saying they would choose the opposite ranking of priorities. While this puts the pro-environment faction slightly ahead of the pro-economy faction, Gallup pointed out that this reflects a major shift in public opinion, compared to periods of greater economic security. In January 2000, at the end of the dot-com era, 70% of Americans said they believed the environment should take priority over the economy.

TV Guide Puts Ads in Listings

After decades of refusing to incorporate paid channel placements into its TV listings, TV Guide is taking the plunge in its May 11 issue of Sponsored Spotlight, a new promotional feature that allows a TV show to get top placement in its prime-time schedule grid, as well as a logo printed in color. The show's description will remain under the control of TV Guide's editorial division. The first channels to use the new Sponsored Spotlight are TNT and TBS, both owned by Turner Entertainment.

TV Week Pulls The Print Edition

In another casualty for media trade magazines, TV Week is closing its print edition after the June 1 issue. At the same time, it's spinning off the NewsPro supplement, which targets professionals in the TV news industry, as a new print magazine, according to Ad Age. The TV Week Web site will continue to operate, including content from NewsPro. In mid-April, PRWeek said it is suspending its weekly print publication and going monthly. And Ad Age revealed plans to cut back its frequency from 50 issues per year to 43 or 44, citing the general retrenchment of advertising during the recession.

Matarazzo Leaves HFM

Nick Matarazzo, the executive vice president and group publishing director for Hachette Filipacchi Media's men's enthusiast network, is leaving the company. Both Matarazzo and HFM were opaque about the reasons for his departure. Matarazzo's position will not be filled, HFM said -- suggesting the company may be sell the network, which includes Car and Driver, Road & Track, Popular Photography & Imaging, American Photo and Boating. There is a more ominous possibility: HFM CEO Alain Lemarchand -- dispatched from Paris by French parent company Lagardere SCA to put HFM on a sound financial footing -- may feel compelled to begin closing them if no buyer is found.

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