When I was a wee pup scratching at the doorstep to Adland, I fantasized about writing my first big, national magazine ad. I dreamed of making a glossy back pager the way other men lusted at the Playboy centerfold. Back then centerfolds and magazines were the shit. And not just for consumers, but copywriters too. For me, nothing symbolized the art of copywriting more than a really good magazine ad. While most of my peers at Leo Burnett coveted television assignments, I felt happiest attacking a print brief. Receiving the Magazine Publishers of America Kelly Award for best print campaign in North America (Altoids) was more satisfying than even winning Lions in Cannes for TV (Heinz Ketchup). Of course, the hundred grand prize may have had something to do with that! And while I’ve jokingly called the out-of-home medium my mistress (so immediate and so bodacious!), to this day I still carry a torch for print. Print is my wife and I love her dearly.

Thanks to the Internet, like all mass media magazines are in jeopardy. Maybe not as much as newspapers but for many “books” the situation is dire. Last year, two magazines I subscribe to went out of business.

So I have to wonder the tone of this year’s Kelly awards, of which I am honored to be judging. I know the MPA well. As you’d expect, they feel righteous about their industry and can point to various signs of relief. Certain publications continue to thrive, for both consumers and advertisers. Who doesn’t love People Magazine or Vanity Fair? Still, the challenges magazines face are real and some unsolvable. Suffice it to say, the golden age of magazines is over.

But that doesn’t mean the medium is finished. Not by a long shot. Frankly, I’m guessing the pubs that remain will be better than their predecessors. Only the strong survive, right? In terms of advertising, it seems to me any truly great integrated campaign will have magazine ads in it. We’ll see.

Judging by the caliber of judges for this year’s Kelly Awards, I am not the only ad man with a rooting interest in magazines. Jeff Goodby. Stan Richards. Steve Hayden. Dave Lubars. Men of a certain age, yes, but they are doing as well today as ever.

Despite the difficult environment magazines now live in I look forward to seeing the work and to meeting so many distinguished judges. For complete information about the MPA Kelly awards including the list of judges please visit: MPA Kelly Awards

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