Changes, Changes

By Brian Jacobs The Cog Blog Archives

This post was going to be all about the new Campaign.  But it would be remiss of me not to log that this was the week in which four out of the six holding company media operations lost a senior U.K.-based member of their management.  Dentsu Aegis lost their U.K. CEO Tracy de Groose and Starcom’s U.K. CEO Pippa Glucklich quit.  Havas’ U.K. CEO Paul Frampton announced his departure, as did OMD’s EMEA President Nikki Mendonca.  Mendonca has gone to Accenture.  (I wonder why that might be?)  The others are yet to announce their next moves.  It all leaves IPG and GroupM looking like pillars of stability.

No doubt a future Cog Blog will return to this series of coincidences and any possible connection to the decline in holding company performance in due course.  Meanwhile, back to Campaign.  At the end of July I wrote a piece about the demise of the weekly Campaign and what was then its soon-to-be-re-emergence as a monthly title.  Sure enough, in mid-September the new version duly thudded onto the doormat.

The first edition was much commented upon, notably by Dominic Mills who, as a distinguished ex-editor has (as always) an opinion worth reading.  Events here and from AdWeek in New York meant it was easy to decide to wait to see the second monthly edition before commenting.  The new edition duly appeared last week.

For what it’s worth I think the new magazine is great.  It looks good, there are several pieces I wanted to read and the whole thing has the look and feel of a serious title.  Commercially, there are ads (the old weekly was becoming very thin).  Yes, many are for in-house promotions or sister events but by my reckoning and ignoring the paid-for editorial (or “partner content”) there were 29 pages in the launch issue.  You could expect that to drop -- and indeed it did to (I think) 24 pages.  Still not bad in a 104-page book (in itself down from the launch issue at 110 pages).

Editorially, as you would expect from a monthly there was less tittle-tattle and more reasoned discussion and debate.  They could perhaps do with a big-name destination columnist or two (like Mark Ritson over at Marketing Week or Dominic Mills at Mediatel) but maybe that’s to come.

Whether by accident or design (design surely) the change of tone reflects the mood of the industry.  New business wins and who’s going where are all very well (and are well catered for online) but they tend to pale into insignificance when the whole industry is under threat from a toxic mix of circling predators (be they management consultancies or private equity businesses) and self-inflicted concerns over trust, transparency, objectivity and the very role of the agency.

My own measure of a magazine’s value is how bad I am at throwing them out. When I was looking for a start in advertising my bedroom was filled with old, yellowing copies of Campaign.  It didn’t feel respectful somehow to chuck them away.

I feel much the same today about The New Yorker.  It’s clearly such a labor of love putting it together it just feels wrong to discard it.

I’ve kept the first issue of the new Campaign, convinced that I will find something I am yet to read in it.  Maybe I’m not quite as fond of it yet as I was of the old weekly, but give it -- and me -- time.

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