Thursday, January 27, 2005

Please Respect the Information I Am About to Share with You

I am, of course, a long-time subscriber to Pig International (Covering the Pig Industry Worldwide). I teach magazine writing. Thus, I note that trade magazines -- i.e., those directed at a specific industry or trade -- are a primary source of editing jobs and freelance writing opportunities.

Let's get real, youngblood. Maybe you'll end up in a cubicle in the New Yorker or maybe you'll end up at Pig International, 18 Chapel St., Petersfield, Hampshire in the UK.

Either is an honorable choice, and perhaps the latter more than the former.

So I collect trade magazines to show the "littles," and I find the exercise most compelling when I bring in magazines the names of which might bring a smile to a sullen undergraduate face. Today I received this message from PI, as we insiders like to call it:

Dear Reader of Pig International Magazine:

Your opinions are important to the publishers of Pig International! That is why they have arranged for Readex, an independent research firm, to conduct a brief survey of the contents in the January/February 2005 issue.

Our aim is to provide you the best possible publication, a magazine that delivers useful, important editorial material while also providing a resource for learning more about the products and services available in the marketplace.

Because the number of readers contacted is small, your participation is needed for the success of this project. Of course, your answers will be kept confidential and only used in tabulation with others.

To complete the online survey, please visit the following website address:

I can't believe how kind and good I am. I have purposely omitted part of the URL because some clowns -- I'll say it again; some CLOWNS -- might sign on and spoil the survey, and my whole point in showing trade mags to the kids is not to dishonor those magazines but to expose the kids to career alternatives.

See, I'm saying. Do you really like writing, reporting and editing or do you just want to be a music critic and ponce around with a bunch of so-called musicians with IQs and chest measurements in the low to mid two-digits?!

Back on point. I am not holding this magazine up for ridicule. However, it is sometimes amusing, even revelatory, when we see standard advertising approaches focused quite narrowly. Ads always mirror the audience at which they are directed, and knowing audiences is a basic skill for the editor and the freelance writer.

Lights, please. Here is a link to one of the ads the survey is asking people to judge. And here's another. And here's yet another. And finally the final "pride of the EU" ad.

This will be on the final.

1 comment:

G Pabst said...

As a "professor" of advertising - who'd get/want an advanced degree in advertising (tho these are offered in America, I invite you to peak at the School of Advertising at UT-Austin), here's my two porcine pennys.

Pigs is pigs. And ads is ads.

As audience is audience.

I once became president of a good size ad agency with the assignment to "transition" our client-base from industrial accounts to consumer.

As a result, for a couple of transition years, I led the charge on:
- diesel fuel filter/water seperators
- OSB (oriented strand board)
- packaging machinery (puts stuff in bags/boxes in precisely measured units
- temporary office space (those trailers you see on construction sites, et al)
- financial legal ads (aka: tombstones)
- and the proverbial - many more.

And it's really not too different from the stuff I've usually done, but far less profitable (cost of media is a fraction and client budgets are at a a far smaller percentage of client revenue).

But the processes are startlingly the same.

Face it, pig farmers see advertising for Mercedes-Benz and Budweiser, too. And like them.

And some of the advertisers to pig farmers (those with larger budgets) see themselves as micro-equals to those esteemed vendors of consumer pleasure.


Note the copy on a red-band-over-Porky's-anus (get it: diarrhoea). Not a bad concept at all, simple and straght-forward). Or the dumb-concept-well-executed "Peak Performance" ad. An embarrasment for the trying-to-build-a-portfolio designer who worked on it. And Bayer knows what it's doing and has hired a slightly more expensive agency - I'll bet - to keep them above the arena's dust.

But note that quality takes a nose dive when we get to the smaller space ads. They're dressed-up spec sheets and Mr. Farmer knows who they are from - and will buy the product if he can negotiate the right price. In short - a waste of ink and paper.

I suspect the boyos at PI are conducting this startlingly unprofessional "survey" expecting that the larger ads will score better than the skinny weinies. Thus giving them good Sales Rationale to go to the Slim-Jim clients and explain that the reader like full page ads and "you'll create more sales..."

Which will result in the leaders taking two-page spreads, etc.,etc., etc. (with apologies to Yul Brynner).

Cynical? Me? No that's bad. BAD!

I'm skeptical. About the media and it's sales people. And about some of the people in advertising. And the trend in advertising toward the money-hungry holding company that mouths platitudes about Creative but are slapping their managers silly about margin.

When some bright boy convinces himself that he can move his clients "up" to more pig-world space by creating a phony piece of research, we've lost. Even though the co-opted agency makes a couple of skins more. Because it reflects what's going on elsewhere in advertising.

Bottom line: America thinks advertising people are all the slimy scum a few of us are.

I'd write more in depth, but I'd have to charge you.