Thursday, June 05, 2008

what i learned at MagNet part II: taking our brands beyond canadian borders

At the MagNet session "Global Player: What's Next for the Canadian Magazine Brand?" Don Kummerfeld, president of the International Federation of the Periodical Press, presented a case for exporting our magazine brands into other countries. As he stated, while growth opportunities may be limited here, there are chances to expand into places like China and India, which have two of the fastest-growing magazine industries in the world. From syndication to partnerships to licensing agreements (think Transcon's More deal with Meredith), publishers small and big can make a buck overseas.

Unfortunately, it seemed as though no one wanted to listen. Questions and comments from both the audience and the panel revealed a kind of "well, that's not going to work here" attitude. True, Kummerfeld seemed a little out of touch with the realities of the Canadian industry in that our major players Transcontinental and Rogers have nowhere near the resources of publishers like Condé Nast or Hearst, but he did provide the example of a small plumbing magazine that has been able to set up editions in 16 countries with very little human resources. The point that stood out for me, though, and which I feel speaks to the Canadian tendency to undervalue ourselves, is that we mustn't underestimate the universal appeal of our magazines. There is a market for our voice beyond our borders.

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