Declines were marginal

I read with interest the article, "Specialty mags on the rise" in your April 10 issue....

I read with interest the article, "Specialty mags on the rise" in your April 10 issue.

For the benefit of your readers, I should clarify that the writer of the article did not contact me for comment about PMB 2000 readership data.

Thus, the statement that "a slight rise in overall readership…has come almost exclusively in the area of specialty titles at the expense of some old stalwarts" is not attributable to me. The statement is also non-defendable from the data as they appear.

A syndicated readership study such as PMB may show increases and decreases in individual title readership from year to year – some may be statistically significant; others not so. Year-on-year changes also often fail to conform to any long-term pattern. Even more important, however, it is impossible in a study such as PMB to attribute a gain by any one publication to a loss by another publication or publications – and vice versa. Two individual readership measurements – even from the same study – cannot, and should not, be linked in this way.

I should also point out that some of the titles mentioned in the article as having sustained decreases did in fact experience only the most marginal of declines, and one actually saw a marginal rise in its readership (declines and increases which no trained researcher would treat as statistically significant). Other titles quoted as having seen decreases are undergoing substantial changes in a mix of distribution/circulation/content, which make analysis of their total, "global" readership somewhat superficial, at best. Finally, perhaps the most glaring error is that Profit magazine – cited as having lower readership in PMB 2000 – in fact saw a significant increase in its readership!

As well as the above sins of commission, the article also contains at least one sin of omission in that it disregards some significant PMB 2000 increases in French-language publications. I must confess I’m not sure what exactly constitutes a "specialty mag" (by one definition, all magazines might be considered "specialty"), but some of those French-language title increases may well not fall into such a category.

PMB would have been pleased to provide these, and other, insights for your readers if invited to do so.

Steve Ferley


PMB Print Measurement


Toronto, Ont.

Ed: For the record, Strategy’s writer did, in fact, contact Steve Ferley for the above-noted article and was provided with comment and background PMB information by him. That said, however, the article did wrongly state that the overall readership of Profit and Flare magazines was down in PMB 2000 over the previous year, when in fact the opposite was true. For that, Strategy apologizes unreservedly.

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group