Mags under fire

One of Toyota Canada's top executives has torn a sizable strip off magazine advertising and the way it conducts business.At a seminar in Toronto, Ted Wallbridge, vice-president of sales at Toyota Canada, challenged most of the assumptions of magazine advertising by...

One of Toyota Canada’s top executives has torn a sizable strip off magazine advertising and the way it conducts business.

At a seminar in Toronto, Ted Wallbridge, vice-president of sales at Toyota Canada, challenged most of the assumptions of magazine advertising by questioning its numbers and its effectiveness.

Wallbridge said at the seminar put on by Magazines Canada, he wants to know what works and what does not.

‘Look, if you’re really going to help me sell more cars, tell me how [to] specifically, realistically, and with credibility,’ he told the audience of about 200 ad agency and media buying professionals.

‘That means you’ll have to do a whole lot more homework, and apply a whole lot more ingenuity than seems to be the norm these days.’

One ad sales representative at the seminar agreed with Wallbridge, and called his straight talk refreshing, even if his delivery was a ‘bit brusque.’

The rep, who declined to give her name, said the auto executive gave the audience valuable advice that should be heeded now more than ever.

Wallbridge, who has final say in all Toyota Canada’s media plans, urged the audience to have the courage to tell him when he is wrong about something and what will work and what will not.

Wallbridge says he is not sure he trusts the magazine industry’s numbers, calling some of its data ‘flaky’ and too old.

Magazines, he says, play the same price games as the auto industry, which leave customers in both industries confused and cynical.

And Wallbridge says if magazines are going to continue price games playing, how about cash rebates for advertisers?

‘One more thing about your deals,’ he says. ‘ `Added value’ has become a buzzphrase that layers over all sorts of supposed buying inducements that frankly don’t mean a damn thing to me,’ he says.

Wallbridge says he has taken some time to look into the magazine business and adds he is puzzled about how leading publications measure up head-to-head.

‘Something like 60 of the leading magazines in Canada are American, so what does that do to the editorial strength you may claim about Canadians or the optimistic environment you may claim among your readers?’ he asks.

‘When you tell me you’re the big noise in your category, and that your readers match my product, my target, my strategy, my tactics, my sales message with uncanny precision, you can see why I’ve got to wonder, especially when so many magazines are red hot today and room temperature tomorrow.’

Like everyone else in the car business, Wallbridge says he lives by 10-day sales periods, and adds anything Toyota Canada plans could go bust overnight.

When that does happen, he says newspapers and radio can react for the company quite quickly.

He says even tv has moved for Toyota with commendable speed.

But Wallbridge says magazines’ long lead times and other apparently firm scheduling policies causes Toyota Canada nightmares.

‘I’d certainly like to find a way to change that,’ he says.

‘I’m not asking you for a snap answer, but I am asking you to agree with me that we must find new ways of dealing with each other.”That means you’ll have to do a whole lot more homework, and apply a whole lot more ingenuity than seems to be the norm these days.’

One ad sales representative at the seminar agreed with Wallbridge, and called his straight talk refreshing, even if his delivery was a ‘bit brusque.’

The rep, who declined to give her name, said the auto executive gave the audience valuable advice that should be heeded now more than ever.

Wallbridge, who has final say in all Toyota Canada’s media plans, urged the audience to have the courage to tell him when he is wrong about something and what will work and what will not.

Wallbridge says he is not sure he trusts the magazine industry’s numbers, calling some of its data ‘flaky’ and too old.

Magazines, he says, play the same price games as the auto industry, which leave customers in both industries confused and cynical.

And Wallbridge says if magazines are going to continue price games playing, how about cash rebates for advertisers?

‘One more thing about your deals,’ he says. ‘ `Added value’ has become a buzzphrase that layers over all sorts of supposed buying inducements that frankly don’t mean a damn thing to me,’ he says.

Wallbridge says he has taken some time to look into the magazine business and adds he is puzzled about how leading publications measure up head-to-head.

‘Something like 60 of the leading magazines in Canada are American, so what does that do to the editorial strength you may claim about Canadians or the optimistic environment you may claim among your readers?’ he asks.

‘When you tell me you’re the big noise in your category, and that your readers match my product, my target, my strategy, my tactics, my sales message with uncanny precision, you can see why I’ve got to wonder, especially when so many magazines are red hot today and room temperature tomorrow.’

Like everyone else in the car business, Wallbridge says he lives by 10-day sales periods, and adds anything Toyota Canada plans could go bust overnight.

When that does happen, he says newspapers and radio can react for the company quite quickly.

He says even tv has moved for Toyota with commendable speed.

But Wallbridge says magazines’ long lead times and other apparently firm scheduling policies causes Toyota Canada nightmares.

‘I’d certainly like to find a way to change that,’ he says.

‘I’m not asking you for a snap answer, but I am asking you to agree with me that we must find new ways of dealing with each other.’