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11 December 2023

Media moguls to show power of print

By Vigyan Arya

Print rules. This is the message that's been constantly conveyed by print media moguls and they are not accepting to be defeated by the "new kid on the block". Digital is savvy, digital is promto and digital is in. But is digital reliable? Every one questions and print media is pushing that reliability to everyone out there – including the advertisers.

In a combined effort now, five of the leading international magazines have pitched on a multimillion dollar advertising campaign touting the "power of print". In a well-crafted copy, they bring to the attention of the industry that "nearly 1,400 pages of the ads will be sprinkled through magazines including People, Vogue and Ladies' Home Journal this year".

If the test of the pudding is in its taste, these hundreds of ads speak volumes and clearly convey that "magazines remain an effective advertising medium in the age of the internet because of the depth and lasting quality of print, compared with the ephemeral nature of much of the web's content", wrote The Wall Street Journal in support of the campaign. The article was carried in print as well in digital format.

The combined campaign is to start in May, aimed at reviving the faith of advertisers at the peak of the dip in their ad spends period. In a head-on approach to counter the challenge from digital, one of the first spread features a picture of international swimming sensation Michael Phelps from ESPN. The Magazine and the tagline reads: "We surf the internet. We swim in magazines."

All the big players in the print media are flexing their muscles together to back this international campaign that's designed by WPP's Young & Rubicam.

The campaign will be officially announced at an industry conference in San Francisco and includes print moguls such as Time Warner's Time, Advance Piublications' Condé Nast, Wenner Media and Meredith.

"A lot of us sat back for way too long and listened to all this abuse and said nothing about it," says Jann Wenner, who orchestrated the campaign. The five publishers say they have committed to run the first of the ads in the front one-fifth of their titles' pages, and have agreed to run all subsequent ads in the first half.

The ad space they are devoting to the campaign is valued at more than $90 million (Dh330.57m), based on public ad rates for each

of their participating magazines. They say they have never before attempted such a large-scale campaign. The Michael Phelps ad is accompanied by an essay about the appeal of magazines.

"Even in the age of the internet, even among the groups one would assume are most singularly hooked on digital media, the appeal of magazines is growing," the ad says. The publishers point to data from Mediamark Research & Intelligence that show magazine readership has risen 4.3 per cent over the past five years.

There are seven spreads in the series, four of which are essay-like and three that are more lighthearted. The campaign's signature is "Magazines: the Power of Print", with each letter of the word magazines appearing as it does in the title of a major publication. The "a" is from Vanity Fair. Print has evolved for more than 100 years and the levels of maturity that it has asserted over the years are very fittingly utilised by industry professionals to retain the commanding status that's been inked – again and again.

Print industry has been constantly making efforts to assert their grip on the industry. This was initiated earlier in the last months of the last year – at the peak of the global economic turmoil – when a select group of publishers announced their collaborative effort aimed at readying magazines for the migration of readers to digital devices.

The result was a statistical boost to the industry as it began to show signs of advertising revenue creeping back into magazines after a two-year drought.

The improved results have given them more ammunition to persuade readers and advertisers alike that the ink-on-paper business isn't dying. Whie enthusiastic digital icons have been raving about the advantage of this new platform, supporters of the print often remind "just as television didn't kill radio, internet cannot be a threat to print."

Time Chief Executive Ann Moore has conveyed his support to the print media saying, "I don't want my clients to believe that no one is reading the printed word."


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