Magazine brand lifespan

Magazine brand lifespan: You might guess that I would disagree with what Simon Dumenco says in his current Folio: Magazine column about the half-life of a magazine brand, however, I couldn’t agree more.


The lesson to be learned is that magazines may increasingly need to become temporary brands — franchises that stick around for a large or small chunk of time, just like “Friends” or “Joe Millionaire,” but are by definition not monolithic, multi-decade propositions.

History bears out Dumenco’s impression that few magazine brands are long-lasting. However, that history bears out that during a specific timeframe, the brand can be highly profitable and powerful. And never forget: In history, “temporary” can be a long, long time.

I plan on writing more about the role of a magazine brand here on the rexblog and other places in the coming months. Stay tuned.

  • lcreekmo

    Perhaps you can write on not outliving the usefulness of your brand, as some other TV shows we might mention.

  • Rex Hammock

    Okay, Laura. I’m not sure I follow the syntax of your comment. But I do agreee (?) that TV shows almost always outlive the usefulness of their brands. There is even a website dedicated to pinning down precisely the moment at which that happens. Are you suggesting that some TV shows are, indeed, forever? (P.S. Do you think the people who know that your office is two doors away from mine and know also that we typically have an open IM thread going, think it is crazy that we would be communicating via weblog comments?)

  • lcreekmo

    A. OK thanks for slamming my syntax in public when everyone else who read it could already see for themselves that I garbled the sentence.
    B. No no I don’t think TV shows are forever. Quite the opposite. (Perhaps my sentence was even MORE mangled than I first thought….) I would say that for the most part, sitcoms and dramas that succeed do so because they touch a chord in present-day society, and therefore they cannot help but be time-limited. I was very skeptical about West Wing’s ability to outlive the Clinton administration for instance (even though it started near the end of it and has spent most of its life inside the Bush administration). I’m still reserving judgment on that. Here’s an interesting thought: genre vs. brand. Think about it this way — cop shows. Hill St. Blues. NYPD Blue. Law & Order. Many, many more. And in the magazine world….women’s service magazines — been around practically forever. But some brands have come and gone.
    I would guess by their nature, magazines are potentially better able to redefine themselves and thus last through societal changes than a moment-in-time TV show. Most have departments and sections that come and go, and if the focus of the magazine is broad enough, it can flow. BUT in 15 years, do you think we’ll still have Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple and other similar-looking “how-to” books? As I write that I don’t even know that I would put Real Simple in a category with anything else. I almost think MSL is the one that could be time-limited…Real Simple is more about life, broadly, and thus more flexible. And I don’t think MSL will eventually disappear b/c of her legal woes — but because people are too busy to even imagine aspiring to that lifestyle. But Good Housekeeping will be here. And Ladies Home Journal.
    C. I learned on CNN over Thanksgiving that I can count it as exercise if I’ll just walk to your office to talk to you instead of IM’ing or replying to your weblog. I’m going to start that tomorrow.

  • Rex Hammock

    Gee, Laura. That might be healthy, but don’t you think such a conversation like this is better preserved for history by recording it here?

  • Hudge

    >C. I learned on CNN over Thanksgiving that I can count it as exercise if I’ll just walk to your office to talk to you instead of IM’ing or replying to your weblog. I’m going to start that tomorrow.

    The we-must-quantify-it-to-make-it-a-trend crowd on TV has lately been claiming one should take 10,000 steps a day for reasonable health and fitness. I don’t think a book with a title like “The 10,000-step plan to <name your goal>” would sell, not even if it had been published in the 90s.