Posts tagged “spin”

Spin story

I bitched about Spin magazine and questioned the notion of relaunch vs. loyalty vs. targeting in a previous post, only to read in Wired (in a piece by Chris Anderson excerpted from the just-released The Long Tail”) that “money-losing Spin magazine was just, well, spun off for a fire-sale sum.” Wikipedia sez

[Under the direction of new editor-in-chief Andy Pemberton] The [May 2006] issue’s format took a dramatic turn to many readers’ disgust. The new style has been compared to celebrity gossip magazines such as Us Weekly, even going as far as to have a cover story and picture on Kevin Federline. Prior to the issue’s release, much of the staff quit or were fired.


As of June 26, 2006, Andy Pemberton resigned from Spin as editor-in-chief amid much criticism of his handling of the magazine.


Vibe’s recent sale of the magazine for only $5 million, given the fact that VIBE paid over $45 million for the publication in 1997.

I left my last issue at the post office, didn’t even take it home to flip through. I didn’t even open the magazine before discarding it. Sad, really.

Meanwhile, Chuck Klosterman has created a big stir in the blogosphere with his Esquire article about the lack of criticism in the gaming scene.

You Spin Me Right Round

I’ve received my second issue of Spin magazine since a recent relaunch. It’s gone from being a youth-oriented slightly alternative music magazine that featured (one of my writing heroes) Chuck Klosterman (in an ever-declining role) to a youth-oriented slightly alternative People magazine.

I wasn’t exactly in love with the old Spin, given my rural lifestyle (i.e., Portigal Consulting world headquarters is just blocks away from an alpaca ranch), but I admit I found it strangely comforting to read about Coachella and Death Cab for Cutie even though there’s little chance I will go to the first or listen to the second. I want to say “I’m too old” but it’s really not a matter of age, I have always liked reading about this stuff, but I never felt part of it. Reading Spin a couple of years ago was an attempt to shake off the depressing feeling that Classic Rock Radio (and Rock Marketing) has been giving me for many years.

But I can’t stand this new magazine, it’s replaced attitude with vapiditude. Spin will certainly lose me as a reader. I’m not sure that’s a problem for them. I’m probably not a customer for their advertisers and therefore not a valued reader.

It does raise some interesting questions about how to “re-launch” or otherwise evolve a brand. I know this is not the first time Spin did this (at one point they were vaguely hard-hitting, big format, run by Bob Guccione, Jr., the Penthouse scion). But there’s no transpanecy in this process. Where is Klosterman? Why all the pictures of hotties? Parties? Hot parties? I’m asked to consider it as the same Spin, even though it’s not, and it doesn’t feel like it.

In this case, the entire experience has changed, it’s not a new ad campaign or new bumper graphics, old stuff is gone, new stuff is here, the editorial voice has been revamped.

Contrast with newspapers that change features all the time (newly designed stock tables, new font, new page format, you name it) and typically will explain the heck out of it, what was done, how it was done, and why it’s better. They know that when you have a comfortable relationship with a paper, you’ll be shattered if changes slightly without you knowing a little bit in advance.

A recent study we did around some commercial software that was used aggressively every day all day found that the management of inevitable changes is crucial, the software is “their” software, just like Spin is “my” magazine. The consumer/producer split has an emotional component that producers don’t always get. As one of the software users told us (paraphrase) “I don’t come to your office and change how your system works!”

That’s sort of how I feel. Spin didn’t ask me if I was going to be okay with this, and I’m not. I hate this magazine and I want my old one back. And Spin is probably all right with that reaction, but it’s easy to identify other cases where it’s not so cool to piss people off so much that they leave.

No pat solutions here, although maybe others have examples of good or bad to contribute here.

McDonald’s unveils panel for food advice

When PR masquerades as customer-centricity:

McDonald’s announced a Global Moms Panel to provide guidance on such topics as balanced and active lifestyle initiatives, restaurant communications and children’s well-being.

The nine women will serve one-year terms on the panel. The company said it wants their input in order to better serve the needs of moms and families worldwide.

‘We want to become the best ally we can for moms and a true partner in the well-being of families everywhere,’ said Mary Dillon, McDonald’s global chief marketing officer.

On this panel is:
U.S. Olympic speedskater Bonnie Blair
Italian Olympic cross-country skier Stefania Belmondo
Christa Kinshofer, an Olympic skier and author from Germany
Gao Min, an Olympic diving champion and author from China
Keddie Bailey, a full-time mother from England
Michele Borba, a childhood development expert and author
Maru Botana, a chef and TV cooking-show personality from Argentina
Laura Lopez Cano, a Latina artist
Kim Carter, a librarian and Parent Teacher Association president

McDonald’s should realize that “soccer man” doesn’t refer to soccer stars!

It’s potentially a great initiative, but I’m reminded of when Ah-nold was the Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. It’s not like his own personal experience with health was representative of the people the gov’t was trying to reach. He was a lead user. So are these women.

McDonald’s is being disingenuous by corralling a high-powered bunch of global supermoms and then claiming they are going to stay in touch with the needs of their real-people customers. One is PR/lobbying/advocacy, and the other is about reaching out to real ordinary people.

Rhetoric over gunshot

A big news story today deals with the Crawford, TX guy who fired a shotgun in the air, presumably in protest over the Sheehan gathering near both his and GWB’s place. I was surprised by the rhetoric used by the SF Chronicle to describe the incident (story not available online).

Larry Mattlage hopped into his pickup truck, barreled across his pasture and pulled up to the fence within a few hundred feet of the protests. He then climbed out of the cab, retrieved a a shotgun from the back and fired at least one blast into the air.

Don’t you just get the picture of some angry redneck, hopping and barreling so? Seems like some sloppy journalism; I guess having a point of view is a “good” thing, but it seems rather manipulative to me.

Verizon CEO sounds off, subordinate backpedals

This SF Chron article was heavily blogged when the CEO of Verizon Wireless said some rather customer-unfriendly things

Seidenberg, for instance, said people often complain about mobile phone service because they have unrealistic expectations about a wireless service working everywhere. Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon and Vodafone, is the state’s largest mobile phone provider.

‘Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?’ he said. ‘The customer has come to expect so much. They want it to work in the elevator; they want it to work in the basement.’

Seidenberg said it’s not Verizon’s responsibility to correct the misconception by giving out statistics on how often Verizon’s service works inside homes or by distributing more detailed coverage maps, showing all the possible dead zones. He pointed out that there are five major wireless networks, none of which works perfectly everywhere.

while a recently published letter to the editor from a Regional President at Verizon backpedals quite a bit.

Increasingly, users do expect wireless service to work wherever they are, including at their homes and even underground.

That’s why Verizon Wireless spends roughly a billion dollars every 90 days to enhance the capacity, capabilities and coverage area of its network — downtown, along major roads, at airports, in residential areas and even in subways and tunnels across the nation.

We allow new customers to try our service for 15 days and return the phone and exit their contract if they’re not satisfied with how the service performs where they make calls.

Of course, it is impossible to make enhancements without installing new equipment, and in San Francisco residential areas, for example, it has proven to be especially challenging to gain community acceptance of new cell sites.

Nevertheless, Verizon Wireless is committed to maintaining its best, most reliable network reputation in the Bay Area and to expand its capabilities in all the places San Franciscans want to make calls.

Where bad people live

Australian paper’s rundown of Saddam’s environs

In the hut, Hussein slept in a bedroom screened by a dirty yellow scrap of curtain, surrounded by fly spray cans and insect repellent creams. About 20 Arabic books were on a small bookshelf, including a translation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. At the back was a small closet-size toilet and a shower.
But despite months on the run, Hussein continued to pay attention to his personal hygiene. On top of the fridge lay a lavender-scented vanity bag and a bottle of moisturising cream, next to a bottle of Lacoste Pour Homme cologne and a canister of minted toothpicks.
The bedroom was filled with men’s clothes, including new shirts and socks still in their wrappers, suggesting Hussein had shopped recently. A gold-plated mirror hung in a corner.

Especially interesting because the US news channels are taking a strange glee in describing the disgusting squalor and bad personal care of the place he was hiding, with galling moral twist, that for someone who was once so powerful to be living so poorly he must really truly be a bad person. Seemingly ignoring the fact that we know he was a mass-murderer, and that he had the entire US military after him and maybe grooming wouldn’t necessarily be first on his list. It’s one of those really messed up media angles that is trying way too hard to spin something, now with extra hyperbole. Bleggcch.


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