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Posts Tagged ‘media’

Continuing my apparent dominance of Chivalry House in October, here’s a little story that’s vaguely related to the work we do (well, it’s about brands, and we’ve got brands in our title).

Marge Simpson, matriarch of the yellow, four-fingered clan of the same name, has posed for Playboy to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Simpsons as a show in it’s own right (it started in ’87 as sketches on the Tracey Ullman, breaking free in ’89 on it’s own).  Aside from the fact a TV show that  gets past four series is on its way to legendary status (Two Pints of Lager notswithstanding), this is an interesting arrangement for both.

The Simpsons, whilst perhaps not reaching the critical heights of its earlier series, is a huge brand that shows few signs of waning. Playboy, on the other hand, is a shadow of its former self, and as confused about its brand identity as any company has ever been.  Is it a porno? Is it a literary mag (don’t laugh, some big literary guns have written for it)? Is it a guide for gentlemen, a sort of GQ-esque establishment? I don’t think it helps that the man who embodies its supposed qualities is a parody of his younger self.  Hugh Hefner tries to maintain his image of a debonair, sophisticated man of means and taste, yet hasn’t adjusted his approach to this image to cater for his advancing years. What worked at forty doesn’t work at eighty.

The magazine itself has suffered at the hands of a wider malaise affecting the print industry. Its online brands have been undermined by the proliferation of free porn sites, and overall it is unable to shake the feeling that its really just grot for kids without the balls to buy the proper stuff.  This is a shame, as it could have been one of the great journals.  As mentioned above, big name writers (with both commercial and critical clout)  have contributed to its pages, with Stephen King on the front cover of the Simpson issue. If it hadn’t gone down the pseudo-Nuts/Zoo route, it might be a brand that makes it to the second half of the 21st century. At the moment, only the Simpsons seem poised to get beyond the next few years.

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I hear with glee that series 3 of Mad Men is airing in the US this summer.  This means it should hit our shores during the autumn.  This is a very good thing.

Communications folks like me enjoy Mad Men as it takes us back to a bygone age where a hard day’s work involved rolling up around 11am, attending the odd meeting, lunching heartily and putting away more Old Fashioneds than you could shake a stick at.  And that’s not to mention the frequent and passionate discussions of the Ugandan situation with female co-workers.

Setting aside the naughtiness however, Mad Men includes some truly classic pieces of TV.  Don Draper’s presentation of the Kodak Carousel at the end of S1 is compulsory viewing for anyone who has to pitch for a living.  His wife Betty shooting ducks in her dressing gown, cigarette in mouth, during S2 is another.

Consider your cards duly marked.

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After moisturising today, I prepared for work by dreamily sipping a camomile tea in a dainty cup. National newspaper, The Sport, wants me to “Man the **** up!” according to its crude, vulgar and downright funny new promo video.

Or maybe not. No, I’m not a typical Sport reader, although this video did make me laugh, if not question my metrosexual mannerisms.

And it shows exactly how well this  national daily understands its audience.

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NewsWeek has a great post up, with lots of sensible ways it is rearchitecting itself to cope with the ‘new media landscape’ we all like to talk about. It’s well worth a read; addressing issues like how the magazine covers breaking news, how its dealing with declining ad-sales, etc.

One point I found particularly interesting was the editor’s reflection on the value of all of this:

Will any of this work? I honestly don’t know.

Advertising models have yet to catch up with the new media world, and it remains to be seen if media ‘as we know it’ can cope. I suspect NewsWeek’s strategy of refocussing for a new core audience, providing a more distinctive voice, cost cutting and so on., will be very sensible… but if ad revenues and print readership continue to tail off in tandem, and as online ads continue to fail to make up the shortfall, staff levels will have to drop further and the mags will need to find a new way of getting its writers paid…

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