New York Life, Insurance Magazine, 1942

[Cross-posted in]

For some reason, every few months or so, a reporter will discover that a consumer or business product company has launched a magazine or web property designed to communicate directly with its customers — and will write about it as if this were some newly discovered form of marketing. As launching and managing such media properties is what I have done for much of the past 25 years, I am pleased that such an approach to marketing is continuously treated as something new and fresh and cutting-edged, despite having been around since the 1800s.

For example, in today’s New York Times, one of my favorite reporters, David Carr, has a column titled, “Publishing, Without Publishers,” in which he writes, “Luxury brands have always advertised in the likes of Vogue, Esquire and Architectural Digest and tried to impress their editors enough to get mentioned in the editorial pages, as well. But now companies like Richemont are reaching out directly to consumers — and cutting out the middlemen.”

Almost ten years ago, I blogged about an exhibit at the Smithsonian commemorating July, 1942, magazine covers that were illustrated with an American flag.
In that post, I noted that leading marketing companies — consumer and business-to-business — have been in the media business since the 1800s.


For years, I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that custom publishing is not something new…my usual example is John Deere’s hundred-year old dealer magazine, The Furrow. Now I have several new examples (DuPont, U.S. Steel, GM, New York Life Insurance, Merck, Harley-Davidson, Dutch Boy and others) of earlier-era corporate magazines featured in the exhibit. One such corporate magazine, the Merck Report, won the “Patriotic Service Award” for its cover.

Don’t get me wrong: Publishing, without publishers, is cutting-edged, up-to-the-nanosecond, hip, happening and creative.

It’s been that way for a long, long time.