An Interview with the MPA … on the Unsung Hero of Accountability
Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) and its Magazine Marketing Coalition are in the middle of a unique two-week, guerilla promotion they’re calling “Magazine Accountability Week,” aimed at raising awareness within the ad community of magazines’ strengths as part of media plans. Among the more notable elements to the campaign is the MPA’s own “superhero,” Captain Read, who is visiting media-buying agencies throughout New York with the MPA’s message in hand. Ellen Oppenheim, the MPA’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, talked with InBox about the campaign and its message.
InBox: Just what does Magazine Accountability Week entail?
Ellen Oppenheim: [This week] is part of an ongoing effort and … and that needs to be put into perspective, I believe.
As part of the Magazine Marketing Coalition ([where] magazines come together to promote their strengths), in keeping with advertisers’ increased interest in accountability, we have unearthed a lot of third-party research that demonstrates magazines’ contribution to advertising results. … In an age of information-overload … even though we have ongoing advertising and ongoing sales calls, and content that goes out through Magazine Days and other events across the country, it’s still important to find new and different ways to bring attention to our core message.
So this is the week that the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is doing their accountability conference … and [the MPA] had a table at the conference to distribute material and information that demonstrates to advertisers how magazines help produce results. Because it’s obviously not enough to just say they do, but you need to show people how they do. And part of it is showing people how they can use their own advertising approach to make magazines work even harder for them.
InBox: How did this two-week promotion come together?
Oppenheim: … Magazines are the unsung hero of accountability, so we said, “Let’s run with it.”
We very quickly pulled together this short-term promotion to tout the strength of magazines in contributing to advertising results. It had a number of components. [We ran] cover wraps in Adweek, Mediaweek and Brandweek. We produced a little something that [ad salespeople] can hand out on a sales call … [which was] a reprint of their magazine’s cover with the “10 Top Reasons to Advertise in a Magazine”—which is an ongoing part of our message that has been in our handbook for several years and is something we’ve been handing out at conferences. This is just a new way to bring attention to it. …
Then we [decided to] see if some of the top agencies who are focusing on accountability as well would be interested in letting us come in—not to give a presentation, not to do anything at length—but just to invite people to a conference room … have your picture taken with [Captain Read] and have a smile. We gave them some red M&Ms—M for magazines—and, oh by the way, we have materials that show the value of magazines. Nine of the top 10 media-buying agencies are in New York, and they all said yes.
We’re going to post the photos from those outings on our Web site [so that] people can come see them just for a smile and a very serious message: Magazines are the medium of accountability—but [we are] using the device of something that’s a little fun but draws attention to the message.
InBox: There has been some criticism of the superhero element to the campaign. Are people putting too much emphasis on Captain Read’s role?
Oppenheim: [declines to comment on negative PR] … This is a small, two-week promotional effort around the time of the ANA’s accountability conference—at a time when media-planning accounts are looking at their allocation—to draw attention to the fact that magazines contribute to positive advertising results.