Vague about Vogue

Media Monoliths
May 27, 2005

Media Monoliths purports to be about the marketing of 20 great media brands - CNN, The Times, Paris Match , Reuters and the like. But it is hardly about marketing at all. It consists of 20 pen portraits recounting the brands’ histories, sketching their activities and outlining their ambitions. All this is lively and readable journalism, but as marketing analysis, it skims the surface.

Author Mark Tungate is a journalist who claims to understand marketing. Unfortunately, he does not. To write the book, he zipped around the world for six months, visiting his chosen media in Britain, the US and Europe, interviewing some of their executives and journalists. They told him how successful they have been in the past and how confident they are about the future.

Tungate accepts these self-promoting encomiums at face value and reproduces them with hardly a sceptical word, so most are more like PR puffs than marketing reports. Even when it is clear things have not been going too well, Tungate puts an optimistic spin on the story - this is Pollyanna stuff, not marketing analysis.

His lack of marketing savvy is spotlit by the final chapter, in which he summarises what he learnt on his trip, and details seven marketing “keys to creating a media monolith”. You must have vision, he says, and identify a target market; it is also essential to think global and act local (though he seems not to know this famous marketing maxim); you must be flexible, and fast-moving, and maintain quality, and keep your publication relevant to its market. You don’t say! Those tenets would apply to just about every major brand in every market, and their like could be parroted by most first-year marketing students without drawing breath.

Each chapter includes “Key marketing strategies”, a brief list of the marketing media used to promote the brand. Tungate defines Vogue’ s key marketing strategies as “point-of-sale posters”. Well, if he truly believes “point-of-sale posters” are Vogue ’s key marketing strategies, that says it all.

Winston Fletcher is visiting professor in marketing, Westminster University, and chairman, Royal Institution. For many years he worked in advertising.

Media Monoliths: How Great Media Brands Thrive and Survive. First edition

Author - Mark Tungate
Publisher - Kogan Page
Pages - 261
Price - £22.50
ISBN - 0 7494 4108 9

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