Like Mark Twain, reports of the death of print continue to be exaggerated, though, like the Black Knight in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” print has suffered considerably more than a flesh wound.
But the recently launched “Magazines, The Power of Print” campaign underwritten by leaders of five major magazine companies—Charles H. Townsend, Condé Nast; Cathie Black, Hearst Magazines; Jack Griffin, Meredith Corporation; Ann Moore, Time Inc.; and Jann Wenner, Wenner Media—is betting $90 million worth of ad space on assuring advertisers (and readers) that magazines remain a vital — a necessary — medium.
To those who scoff, we can point to Dr. Samir Husni, aka “Mr. Magazine,” who recently reported there were 170 magazine launches in 1Q 2010 — the same number as 1Q 2009 and more than in either 2007 or 2008.
“Call it what you want,” writes Dr. Husni, “but yet again the innovative media companies and entrepreneurs have shown a resiliency against all odds, and for that matter against the prophets of doom and gloom.

Created by Y&R NY, the “Magazines, The Power of Print” (let’s call it “POP” for short) campaign will roll out in the May issues (for weeklies, the issues on sale the week of April 5) of nearly 100 titles and run for seven months in magazines and Web sites. A complementary digital component will support the print campaign.
POP builds on research showing that magazine print advertising has ticked upward slightly:

  • Magazine readership has risen 4.3% over the past five years and average paid subscriptions are also up.
  • Magazine effectiveness is growing, measured by recall and actions spurred by magazine advertising.
  • Adults 18-34 are avid magazine readers: They read more issues and spend more time per issue than their over-34 counterparts.

That last item dovetails with one of the slogans used in the campaign: ““We Surf the Internet. We Swim in Magazines.” Featuring Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, the ad notes that “The Internet is fleeting. Magazines are immersive.” Evidence that a younger demographic is attracted to traditional magazines is cause for joy—and wonder.
Critics of the campaign, and there are several, tend to focus on the “genetic” differences between paper and digital, differences that transcend format. Somehow, they note, those differences must be reconciled in order for either format to evolve successfully.
This is not new news for us. We’ve said for years that print magazines remain vibrant and strong, though their traditional business model is long overdue for some serious nipping and tucking, if not outright transplanting.
In fact, it’s an exciting time to work with traditional print magazines, because it affords an opportunity to explore and expand that experience online. This will be even more so in the early iPad age we are beginning now.