Homo homini rodentius est

Beauty and the Beast

Self-ordained digital media gurus like Scott Karp of [Publishing 2.0] and [Matthew Ingram] have built a cottage industry proclaiming the coming death of analog media. So blinkered are they by their all-or-nothing worldview they fail to see how some old line media brands are leveraging their strengths into the new media landscape. The best recent example is [ShopVogue.tv], a pretty brilliant brand extension that Condé Nast has cooked up for Vogue. In hindsight of course it looks like a no-brainer — create a portal that allows current (and soon to be) Vogue readers to go behind the glossy pages of the classic fashion magazine and get additional content, including behind-the-scenes video of glam fashion shoots, as well as the ability to purchase the products featured in large-format glorious color in the magazine. Brand extension and a new revenue stream to boot — the definition of synergy.

But hindsight is overrated — the moral here is that it may take awhile for established businesses to respond to the potential of a new channel but, over time, those with the content and the capital will carry the day. That advertisers are hot for the idea is evidenced by the record-breaking number of ad pages Vogue sold for the September issue: 727! The enormous issue weighs in at 4 pounds. That’s old media heft that new media prognosticators ignore at peril to their fragile reputations.

Condé Nast isn’t alone in coming up with digital strategies — Hearst, jumping early on the mobile media bandwagon, is in the process of [rolling out nine mobile sites] to complement some of their most popular magazine brands. This is a strategy that many magazines could adopt — adding an interactive component that allows readers to engage the magazine they are reading with one hand while they turn the pages with the other. What do you know, looks like the reports of the death of analog media were a bit premature.

And while we’re on the subject of beauty, I had to comment on the death of Leona Helmsley and something remarkable that happened yesterday. It isn’t often that one looks to the venerable Washington Post to get a Gawkerish dose of snarky vitriol, but that’s exactly what they served up to mark the death of “The Queen of Mean”. The surprisingly hilarious piece by Larry McShane, entitled [Leona’s Final Property Has a Great View], refers to her final resting place at the lyrically named Sleepy Hollow in upstate New York. Referring to Leona (nee Lena Rosenthol) as “a hardhearted harpy with a hair-trigger temper”, McShane shows that she played to type right to the end — getting into trouble with local officials when she had the family crypt moved from its former home in the Bronx after “the tomb with a view” had that view occluded by a public mortuary (gasp!). Still trading up in real estate right to the bitter end. Say what you like about the old bitch, but that’s integrity.

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