The big question for the 500 or so magazine executives gathering at Boca Raton’s cavernously posh resort and club this week for the 2007 American Magazine Conference is simply this: What the hell is a "magabrand"? And is it really a revolution? The conference’s thematic title-"Magabrand Revolution"-seems to be both a nod to magazine publishers leveraging their brands across multiple platforms (Web, TV, radio, rock club et al) and the personal journey of the Men’s Health editor and AMC chairman Dave Zinczenko from self-described fat kid to editor to Today show TV personality to tabloid-fodder to a multi-platform brand himself. (Zinczenko could be overheard saying as much at the resort’s hotel bar late Saturday, going as far as calling ex-White House press secretary Tony Snow, the conference’s odd choice of opening keynote speaker, as a "megabrand"-albeit a retired one.)
As Zinczenko explains in his chairman’s letter, the so-called revolution is the "art and science of combining a strong magazine voice with the power of digital media to reach downloaders, listeners and viewers in ways that were unavailable, or even unimaginable, five years ago."
But is the magazine as brand a "revolutionary" idea, or even new? No, but believe it or not, there are magazine publishers out there that have yet to grasp the concept of "beyond print"-last year’s AMC theme-and plenty more who’ve done little else than talk about it. Besides, magazine conference’s need themes, and at this point, anything without the word "digital" in it is probably a good idea.