Marty’s Marketing Minutia

This week's assortment of news, views and schmooze.

by on Mar.27, 2009

Are Buff Books Becoming An Endangered Species?

Buff books no longer are flying high.

Buff books of all types no longer are flying high.

Hachette Filipacchi, the mega magazine publisher (owned by the French company Lagardere SCA) earlier this week announced it was offering several well known enthusiast publications — American Photo, Boating, Cycle World, Flying, Popular Photography and Sound & Vision for sale at “distressed” prices, according to the Delaney Report, a magazine industry newsletter.

Additionally, executives from France are in the U.S. “streamlining,” a synonym for cutting, slashing and reducing costs. 

What does the future hold for HF’s auto publications and the other auto-centric magazines? Based on the vital signs – ad income, ad pages and circulation – these are not healthy consumer sources of automotive information, reviews and of course big buck advertising programs.

Let’s look at the numbers from Publishers Information Bureau’s most recent report for a diagnosis and prognosis of advertising income and ad pages:

Automotive Magazines Analysis 2008 to 2007















Automobile Magazine














Car And Driver







Motor Trend







Road & Track







Robb Report







Magazine Totals







But they are not alone as forlorn objects on newsstands or in doctor’s waiting rooms.  The top ten automotive magazines as defined by Audit Bureau of Circulations, the bible of magazine circulation and page rates, details a fairly consistent level of circulation with Car and Driver the leader with 1.4 million readers, Motor Trend has 1.1 million subscribers, followed by Road & Track at 768,000, with Automobile Magazine 567,000, while numbers for AW were not available.

As most advertising media mavens acknowledge, these circulation numbers show a relatively high cost per thousand (CPM) compared to other mediums. While a loyal group of auto fans, they do not represent a major factor in the marketplace, except in a historical perspective. Stable circulation numbers but a loss in ad revenue and ad pages does not represent a healthy situation, which explains the drop in support by the auto ad big guns. It’s not working as well as it once did.

Other print domiciles with minimal auto related editorial content but with male content that once garnered hefty automotive advertising buys include Time, Newsweek, US Business Report, Fortune, Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, Vanity Fair, Golf Digest New Yorker, Sports Illustrated and others are suffering mal de media – print media sickness. Their loss of ad dollars and pages has been damn near catastrophic.

In pandemic patterns, the Internet has afflicted and infected auto, male and other print mediums including many other titles and of course, newspapers with a virulent disease: loss of circulation, interest and advertising revenue!

Internet publications (there has to be a better term for them) can and do generate millions and millions of “hits” a month. Auto magazines cannot rack up numbers like these. They have an enthusiast base, not wide consumer appeal for potential new car buyers. Even the addition of websites for the buff books cannot come close to matching the huge volume of visitors to and KBB for their car buying information.

The new metrics world gives manufacturers’ accurate detail on the ROI of specific sites – they can track from hits to sales at dealers. It’s a numbers game and has changed the way automobiles are marketed.

There is no known cure, silver bullet, penicillin or antibiotic for the automobile focused publications, once the Touchstone of every automotive ad campaign.  One top editor – publisher told me this week, “We’ve changed they way we write and report for our website and the magazine readers. They are not the same!”

Kate’s One Night Stand

Infrequently, I’ll briefly profile auto people who do or have done interesting things outside of their current auto-gigs. Here’s the first.

Kate McLeod is known inside the automobile industry as an automotive columnist, journalist and author but she is also an actor and playwright. For those who live in the NY metro area, Kate is appearing in play, Stealing Glances next Monday only — so it is a one night stand — at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), 199 Chambers Street.

McLeod is a member of the Dramatists Guild and has an MFA from Catholic University.  She lives with her husband, Forbes Columnist, Jerry Flint.  They divide their time between New York City and Stuyvesant, NY.

Is Cable TV a Household Essential?

Yes. A study released by New Pulse research showed 95% of cable equipped households will not cancel their television service during this economic downturn.  Who said this medium is not as important in a marketing plan as it once was? TV is the source for entertainment and news, even surpassing the Internet.

Subaru’s Feel Good Programs


April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month.

In the current “rush to dump” funding of charitable, cultural and community activities, Subaru of America’s contributions are praiseworthy. A new addition to the company’s extensive list organizations is its inaugural sponsorship of the nation’s oldest humane organization, the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). 

A key component of Subaru’s support is sponsorship of April’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month special events called Go Orange for Animals’ festivals. This nationwide event will include mobile adoptions and opportunities to get advice on pet care from animal behaviorists, will take place in several key cities and all Subaru dealers can participate in their local areas.

This is just once component of the brand’s support of organizations and activities that are customers cause focused. Recently Subaru of America  presented a $4.6 million check to the five charities involved in its “Share the Love” marketing campaign.

Share the Love” was a unique marketing campaign based on the “love” Subaru owners have for their vehicles and their desire to help worthy causes. The campaign ran from November 24 to January 2 and allowed Subaru new vehicle customers to select one of five charities to receive a $250 donation from Subaru of America, following the purchase or lease of a new Subaru vehicle.

The program was the first in what is expected to become an annual Subaru tradition and was one of the factors that contributed to Subaru’s sales success in 2008, as the only volume brand to post a sales increase, however slight, in the U.S.

The five charities participating in the program were; Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Habitat for Humanity International, Meals On Wheels Association of America, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Additionally Subaru lists ‘partnerships’ on its website for a huge variety of other outdoor, environmental and sporting organizations. 

Let’s face it, Subaru is not an eleemosynary organization, but its ‘feel good’ resonate with buyers of their vehicles as they continue to buy more of the company’s vehicles.

The Newspaper Death Watch

The toll is mounting with more newspapers being added to the list almost every day. The Pew Center for the People and Press just released a survey about local news sources that shows more people say they get news from local television stations than any other source.  

Regular Source of Local News (% of Respondents)
Get News Regularly From % of Respondents


Online TV


Print Newspaper


Online Newspaper






Source: Pew Center for People & the Press, March 2009   

But that’s not all the bad news. There’s a generation gap too based on Pew’s newspaper readership research. The analysis found that just 27% of Generation Y, those born in 1977 or later, read a newspaper the previous day. That compares with 55% of those in the Silent or Greatest Generations, born prior to 1946. Only 23% of those younger than age 40 say they would miss the local newspaper they read most often a lot if it were to go out of business, compared to 33% of those ages 40 to 64 and 55% of those age 65 and older.

None of this augers well for the newspaper industry, does it?

Audi and the Yankees Nice New Club

The Yankees have been having trouble filling ultra-expnsive seats.

The Yankees are having trouble filling ultra-expensive seats in a new taxpayer-financed palace.

The new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx which has been highly criticized for being too, too much for America’s pastime and stratospheric ticket prices has, like most new sports venues, an ultra, ultra club for deep pocket individuals and companies … assuming there are any remaining in the Big Apple after the AIG, Bernie and stock market losses.

Audi of America announced it has signed an agreement to be the title sponsor, with a logo sign on the upper deck fascia of the yet unopened Yankee home  that will proclaim for all camera angles along the third base foul line, Audi Yankee Club.  

Can’t wait for April 16 opening day, can you?

More next week — Marty

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

This week's assortment of news, views and schmooze.

by on Mar.13, 2009

Hamsters Star in New Kia Soul Commercial

Late last month millions of Gen X & Y’s movie fans were treated to the newest animal stars in a commercial — hamsters. Yes, those cute, but not too cuddly, rodents have hit the big screen in the prelude to a multi media advertising launch of the Soul, Kia’s newest entry in the smaller car market.

Hamsters running in exercise wheels are a familiar image of mundane sameness, stifling repetitiveness and bland boredom, but suddenly the stars life is changed as the new Kia Soul enters their lives. Everything is changed to stimulating events and activities. The cute – well sort of – hamsters are costumed actors reacting and enjoying the change in their less stimulating lives.

Kia’s longtime advertising agency, David & Goliath has created a fun-filled commercial with an amazing assortment of visuals that are fun to watch while munching on that $10 package of buttered popcorn and drink and getting into the groove of the music. This is a new way to replace sameness and the new Kia tag line, “A new way to roll,” works beautifully. The 60-second commercial is running in a couple thousand movie houses until the full campaign breaks on April 1.

I hate commercials in movies, but the target audience of the Soul dominates the local multiplex theatres weekend after weekend after weekend. And while I’m certainly not the target market either, this is a very clever, well produced cinema commercial. Click here to check it out! There will be more info on the Soul campaign next week including comments from Michael Sprague, marketing vice president of Kia Motors America,

GM Ends Long Relationship with Documentarian Ken Burns

General Motors was forced to end its ten year financial underwriting of Academy Award winning film maker, Ken Burns because of its ongoing attempts to conserve cash in the Great Recession.

Just another unwanted consequence of GM's troubles.

Just another unwanted consequence of the troubles at GM.

Burns was another casualty of the General’s mounting financial woes, but it is also a major loss to millions of viewers of his carefully crafted, interesting, entertaining and educational movies about American life and lives. The range if titles in indicative of the appeal: The War, Jazz, Lewis & Clark, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mark Twain, Statue of Liberty, Baseball, Brooklyn Bridge and many others. His last for GM is a history of our National Parks set to air in September.

GM’s support and financial aid for a variety of cultural institutions, events and activities has enriched millions of lives. It was not largess, nor was it commercial. It was a corporate dedication and commitment to add to our lives. We all will miss this support.

Newspapers Become Endangered Species

Time magazine forecast a list of 10 major newspapers that will either die or do digital in the foreseeable future. They are:

  • The Philadelphia Daily News
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • The Miami Herald
  • Detroit News
  • Boston Globe
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • Chicago Sun Times
  • NY Daily News
  • Fort Worth Star Telegram
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer

All these news woes can not be blamed on the economy or changing patterns in media usage by local and national advertisers; it’s the result of the loss of classified, aka want ads. These ubiquitous little – sometimes big – ads selling cars, pets, houses or special services were the financial foundation – the big profit center of most newspapers – that paid all the base operating costs. Big display ads were pure profit. Then Craig’s List arrived with essentially no charge ads that combined with changing demographics and reading habits. Result? Newspapers from dailies to weeklies began to fail and simply stopped publishing.

The list includes some Pulitzer Prize winning papers while dailies like the New York Times have been forced to obtain a $250 million loan from a Mexican media magnate, and sell and then release 15 floors in its new skyscraper headquarters in New York.

The cause can be attributed to many things, primarily the Internet and cable’s 24 hour news s. These mediums have become the source of news and information replacing newspapers.

The Detroit Media Partnership of the Detroit Free Press and Detroit Newsrecently announced an innovative, albeit possibly dangerous change: newspapers will be printed everyday but home deliveries have been reduced to three days a week, newsstands will have daily editions and digital versions with blogs, RSS and other digi-news will be available to subscribers.

To automotive advertisers the loss of newspapers is still being felt. To automotive journalists the news is devastating personally and professionally. Long time auto editors and writers have been out-sized and then told to come back as freelancers at reduced compensation with benefits if they wish to continue writing about cars. It’s a nasty situation, but there’s been no solution.

Car Designs from an Ad Guy?

Peter Arnell, the once hefty but now very svelte advertising guru and sometimes Svengali – think Chrysler’s ill fated Celine Dion commercials – is back work again. And for the new Chrysler, LLC, reported Brand Week magazine.

Maybe the orange juice packaging is nicer?

Maybe the orange juice packaging is nicer?

He’s designed a car for Chrysler. A car called the, get ready for scintillating name, the Peapod! An electric vehicle that’s gonna sell for, $12,500. Sure.

But there’s more from the man who (1) created then reverted to the original design of the Tropicana Orange juice packaging because no one could tell it was Tropicana, and (2) has the most amazing stupefying PowerPoint of the design for the new Pepsi logo that defies description. “Chrysler dealers will start taking orders on Earth Day, April 22 and ship them out this fall,” the article detailed.

Double sure! Anyone for an over/under bet?

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