Thursday, October 26, 2006

Essay 1257

Delivering a Eulogy for a Magazine.


Hasta la vista, baby.

Barely a week after the conclusion of Hispanic Heritage Month, media conglomerate VNU announced its decision to dump Marketing y Medios, the trade magazine dedicated to Latino advertising and more.

The new scheme involves rolling the magazine’s content into monthly special reports that will run in sister publications Adweek, Brandweek and Mediaweek — sort of a business burrito for the professional masses.

The VNU spin was typically corporate: “The growing Hispanic market has evolved from a niche to the mainstream and our audience is asking for forward-thinking, broad-based coverage. … This move provides Marketing y Medios a prominent presence in our three core brands while offering Hispanic advertisers a voice among mainstream brand marketers and media buyers.”

The Spanish translation for the VNU statement: Caca Grande.

Actions like this are always financially motivated. Except in cases of blatant racism. But let’s take the high road and presume that Marketing y Medios failed to generate the requisite profits to satisfy VNU accountants.

Its demise, however, inspires some disturbing observations.

For starters, one must wonder if VNU spent enough time and money promoting their product. It seems like receives greater hype than Marketing y Medios enjoyed. Plus, to recognize “the growing Hispanic market has evolved from a niche to the mainstream,” then eliminate the publication reporting on the subject, makes little sense.

From a publishing perspective, the Latino marketing community literally goes from star to minority status. When considering players like Advertising Age, where “Multicultural” news is relegated to an occasional partial page, it does not bode well for the future of Marketing y Medios’ voice and spirit. Has Adweek ever displayed a single decent article on anything not targeting White Baby Boomers? And does anyone even read Brandweek and Mediaweek?

It would be ideal if VNU actually integrated the Marketing y Medios content, creating diverse editorial environments. But that’s probably too “forward-thinking” to comprehend. Instead, it appears VNU will ultimately reflect the advertising industry by segregating the minorities. Better to keep these guys in their place — in the back sections alongside the classified ads featuring job opportunities that Blacks, Asians and Latinos will continue to be denied.

Marketing y Medios awarded a unique platform for the Latino marketing community to showcase its stuff. Editor Laura Martínez and her team served up opinions, insights, facts, fiction, creative critiques and more with passion, intelligence and humor. Everyone was welcome, whether Martínez agreed with you or not. Forgive the cliché, but it was a cultural celebration. And of course, it helped the Latino marketing community build credibility, prominence and power. There’s a lot of cool and progressive activity taking place — and Marketing y Medios provided an unparalleled spotlight. Folks would be hard-pressed to find another business magazine in any category to match its distinctive personality.

Muchos kudos to Laura Martínez and compadres for blazing breakthrough, pioneering achievements.

What’s the biggest tragedy of all? MultiCultClassics recently renewed its subscription to Marketing y Medios for two years. So VNU is bound to offer credit in the form of a substitute magazine from its stable of hackneyed dreck.

In the words of Bart Simpson, “¡Ay, caramba!”


Special Bonus! Click on the essay title above to view MultiCultClassics’ first mention of Marketing y Medios, written in March 2005.


Anonymous said...

Working in this industry, Hispanic Media, we travel the country talking to decision makers at all levels and in all fields with one singular message: Hispanics must be viewed as much more than a 15% minority segment of the US population. We tell them that it is feasible to speculate that at some point in the next 5 decades, Hispanics will represent a % of the population that may be equal to caucasians (based upon how census data is currently gathered.) We tell them that Hispanic is no longer a niche audience, that it needs to be part of their core marketing strategy. It needs to be unique, but it cannot be overlooked or underestimated. We are like Plessy v. Ferguson: separate but equal (we should get attention representative of our population) question is this: what is wrong with companies like VNU taking a property like MyM and making it part of their core offering. Hispanic is general market in the sense that it has to be part of any overall strategy. So why have separate products...why have separate creative teams, why have separate media planners....why not start incorporating all the best talents in Hispanic in everything general market. Why should Laura Martinez be saddened that MyM is changing...we should be sad that VNU is not considering Laura Martinez for the post of editor in chief for AdWeek. She's an awesome journalist...regardless of the genre/niche.

It is so frustrating to constantly hear the inferences of prejudices, anti hispanic...blah blah blah as the motivation behind actions. Once we all realize that our goal as media professionals first and foremost is to generate solid businesses, not celebrate identities, then all of this will become history.

VNU's move, to my mind, is a great step for us. We now are in front of everyone in the market rather than in a separate publication that only reaches those who are conscious. Putting the MyM content in the core publication enables our industry that much more clout in being considered part of the core of the United States.

HighJive said...

You make great points, anonymous.

As always, the proof will be in the pudding.

Maybe VNU will do a splendid job of integrating the content. At the same time, why did it require having to fold MyM? What would have prevented VNU from publishing excerpts from MyM in its sister publications?

The “forward-thinking, broad-based coverage” comments seem to imply a mass audience needs a more general overview. And they probably do. Which we’re guessing translates to a sterilized version of the MyM content. Let’s hope we’re wrong here.

You wrote, “Once we all realize that our goal as media professionals first and foremost is to generate solid businesses, not celebrate identities, then all of this will become history.” Maybe. Or perhaps the industry needs to realize our fragmented media and fragmented society needs to recognize identities.

We agree that the ideal would be full and equal integration. Please drop another email when you see evidence of that.

Anonymous said...

VNU's move was solely for financial purposes. Regardless of whether readers and advertisers prefer Hispanic to be part of the general market or it's own market, VNU doesn't care. Its executives probably don't even know the difference. Their intention was to cut red ink. Period. (VNU was bought by a group of private equity firms whose sole interst is increasing profit margins. They don't care if they're selling advertising or auto parts -- whatever has the higher yield.)
So Marketing y Medios it was. In order to save face, especially because of its large initial investment, VNU decided to keep it in the other magazines and keep the Web site alive since it has low operating costs.

So it's great to have this discussion about the proper place of Hispanic marketing, whether segregated or not, but let's not give VNU too much credit for making its decisions along those lines. As they say, it's all about the bottom line.

on a lark said...

anonymous, please, if you choose to refer to landmark civil rights cases, understand exactly to what you're refering. on the one hand, you contend that the hispanic audience is like Plessy v. Ferguson—a court decision that cemented the legal foundation for the doctrine of separate but equal, the idea that segregation based on classifications was legal as long as facilities were of equal quality—on the flip side, you question the need for separate hispanic products, creative teams and media planners. which will it be? because P v.F was an appauling decision and so was that to fold MyM.

Anonymous said...

The reason Marketing y Medios failed is because it was not a good product. The writing was sloppy, the breadth of articles narrow. It also puts into perspective that the Hispanic advertising and marketing industry cannot support a glossy magazine.