CEO, American Media
The CEO of the sprawling American Media, which publishes such diverse brands as National Enquirer and Shape, argues that product placementâ€”which thrives in other media but has been the third rail of magazine publishingâ€”needs to be part of the conversation.
â€śI know that the ASME guidelines clearly state that advertisers should not pay to place their products in editorial pages, but the fact is it has become a common practice in movies and TV shows today,â€ť says Pecker. â€śProduct placement has helped fund movies or shows, and certainly hasnâ€™t prevented them from winning an Oscar, Emmy or the NY Film Critics Award. Nor has it sent the audience running out of theaters or living rooms in disgust.â€ť
Pecker says that Magazine Publishers of America should make developing a product-placement policy for the industry a priority for 2009. â€śI encourage our industry to work closely with Marlene Kahan [executive editor at the American Society of Magazine Editors] and Nina Link [CEO of MPA] to come up with ways that we can all agree upon to make this work for magazines, without compromising their editorial integrity,â€ť he says. â€śFor example, Iâ€™d think that a fashion spread featuring outdoor clothes with a sports car as a prop could have an automaker pay for that placement because it really doesnâ€™t corrupt or compromise the fashion editorial.â€ť
The key is in the details, Pecker says. It may be that a policy establishes the number of times a product placement can be used, or the circumstances, or the ways in which it should be communicated to readers. All of those elements should be part of a conversation, Pecker says, but the conversation needs to be started.
â€śI will leave it to Marlene Kahane and Nina Link to make the final determination as to how this can be implemented, such as restricting such placements to a very few per issue, with ASME setting the guidelines,â€ť Pecker says. â€śHowever, it is important to note that revenue from these placements can be directed into the editorial budget just as it goes into a filmâ€™s budget. With editorial budgets facing cutbacks due to rising costs of paper and postage, product placement will help sustain our editorial quality, not diminish it.â€ť
STRENGTHS: It is a new source of revenue for magazines and advertisers are demanding more editorial integration.
WEAKNESSES: Possible impact on editorial integrity.
OPPORTUNITIES: It has been accepted in other media so there should be little resistance from advertisers to accept it in print.
THREATS: Not trying to make it work in print gives advertisers another reason to buy other media.
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