The (Magazine) Empire Strikes Back

Five major magazine publishers launched an advertising campaign in April they say is designed to fight back against the notion that the magazine medium is on its death bed.

According to a press release from the leadership of Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corporation, Time Inc. and Wenner Media, the ads will feature:

headlines such as, “We Surf the Internet. We Swim in Magazines.” And “Will the Internet Kill Magazines? Did Instant Coffee Kill Coffee?” These will be accompanied by iconic images lifted from the pages of America’s best-known magazines. A second phase, which will start appearing in June issues, will embed multiple cover images from widely recognized publications into the ad’s text to convey key phrases.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, magazine publishers are buoyed by a recent bump in print advertising sales and data from Mediamark Research & Intelligence showing a 4.3% increase in magazine readership over the past five years.

The press release states the ads will reach 112 million readers a month, while the WSJ story says the total value of the ads is more than $90 million.

One such ad features Michael Phelps:

Another substitutes popular magazine titles for words:

A YouTube video features the CEOs of the five companies explaining in their own words their rationale for the campaign:

Is this a desperate last gasp? A long-overdue statement of the facts? Or are they missing the point about the future of magazines altogether? (And is it a little odd they’re promoting the virtues of magazines to people who are already reading one?)

In my next post: industry reaction, and my thoughts.

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