On the 'Power of Print' Campaign
Once again, into the valley rode the Fortune 500. Once again, into the breach they ride feeling the need to defend the pious honor and value of print. Once again, they completely miss the damn target, this time by a mile, a $90-million mile. I am not saying that as an industry there aren't things that we should be doing to put a finger in the leaking dam. But the dam still has integrity and is still holding back a vast sum of print revenue and print advertising. I am saying that what we do need to be smart and well-targeted. This "Power of Print" campaign is neither.
I guess my complaint is their marksmanship. There isn't any. The people who put this campaign together to protect print don't have a clue what they are doing, nor whom to aim at. It is also clear that the instigators of this campaign don't use the Internet or any digital component therein. I say print has much integrity and life left in it, but you wouldn't know it by this desperate ad campaign.
The campaign claims to target advertisers, shareholders and industry influencers. Well listen up, my friends, because you just insulted them all. The media buyers live in a digital world. When you bellow in one of the ads that, "The Internet is fleeting. Magazines are immersive," every media buyer knows that is pure bunk. It is the Internet that is immersive, and the kids that buy the ads and spend the advertising money know it. They live on Facebook, Twitter and hundreds of other social networking sites and programs. You display an utter lack of contemporary culture and knowledge. You show your dotage at every opportunity. Don't attack your customers where they live. Media buyers live on the Web and only visit magazines. And in my book, visiting is OK and can still be very profitable, but not if you try to tell them that they live in a fleeting, soon- to-be-evaporated world. That is a lie.
Oh, and here's the other tag line from this week's report: "We surf the Internet. We swim in magazines." Oh, really? Perhaps you missed the report that the Web is now the second-most trusted place for news—second only to TV. Perhaps you missed the news that 57 percent of the Web's social media users are over the age of 35. Perhaps you didn't know that Facebook has more than 400 million active users, and of those active users, 61 percent are middle-aged or older.
All I am saying is that the campaign is a total waste. To whom, exactly, is it directed, and exactly what are your expectations for ROI? Is this the campaign that will save the nation of print?
Look—I love print and have been deeply involved with it for over 40 years. It is a beautiful technology. It still has great merit and worth. We will survive by being what we are—useful, informative, reasonably priced and unbreakably transportable. We have the best editors and writers on the planet and have the ability to band together thousands upon thousands of like-minded readers to our brands on a regular basis.
More or less, that is who we are. You may think I have overreacted, and perhaps that is so. But I firmly believe that attacking the Web and the future of information distribution is, at best, terribly misguided.