BrandEra's The Brand
73 Cambridge Ave Suite 3
Toronto ON M4K 2L2
http://www.brandera.com/thebrand/thebrand.htmlCirculation as of 01/02:
25,000 opt-in readers get this emailed Monthly newsletter, plus lots of folks surf to the site to read it there. The demographic breakdown is:
1/3 ad agency creatives, art directors and planners
1/3 freelance creatives - mainly designers and illustrators
1/3 client-side marketing and product managers, many at large consumer packaged goods companies in the US
Note that although Conn is based in Toronto, the vast majority of his readers are in the USA.Conn's background:
After editing his university newspaper, Conn ended up working for a series of trade journals in a wide variety of industries, from car repair to insurance. He always slipped in a few feature articles on advertising in that particular industry, and found himself more and more passionately drawn to subject, until he landed at BrandEra in 1999.
He explains why he loves advertising so much, "I was always interested in the concept of telling a story in 30 seconds or in a display ad. The great ads are the ones that tell stories, not crazy artistic stuff, but a great story about their product, why someone's using it and why they're not using other people's products. It's hard enough to make a great two-hour movie, -- think about the copywriter who's designing a 30 second story! Imagine a guy who condenses that to five seconds. It's really brilliance if you think about it."
He adds, "The ad industry is a fantastic place to be. It's the one industry where the people in it continue to talk about it at night after work. Very few jobs out there seem to resonate enough that people choose to live it their entire lives. They're not just shackled to a desk during the week."Current editorial coverage:
The Brand is focused on creative execution of B2C ads in all media, plus some slight B-to-B coverage. Because it's a monthly, the focus is less on news and more on trends, campaign reviews and lots of op-ed. Conn says, "You're going to get creative inspiration, and we'll tell you what's working and what's not."
He notes that The Brand is edgier than its competitors because the publisher BrandEra is far less dependent on ad revenues. (They mostly make their money selling freelancers memberships at sister site Portfolios.com.) Conn says, "We're not so ad-driven that there's a border to what we can say. If something deserves a congrats, we'll give it one; if something deserves a slap in the face, we'll give that as well." What Conn looks for in a story pitch:
Conn tries to make The Brand as entertaining to read as possible, so don't expect to get any coverage for your news announcements "unless you're an existing name making news that everyone's dying to hear about."
Instead, Conn advises you come up with a story idea that your CEO or creative director would be a perfect person to approach for a comment in. "I'm happy to promote people's ideas and services, but only if it helps me get the information I want in front of my readers. The best way is to call me and say, 'Why don't you do a story on this new angle on branding?' We can provide a source for you to use in that story.' Or, 'I've got a VP who give good quote, if you do a story on something related, you can interview him.'"
Topics can include print ads, broadcast ads, sponsorship and event advertising, movie ads, colors in ads, zany marketing styles, POP advertising, etc.
Also, definitely pitch Conn on stories or quotes you have for stories about the politics within agencies, between agencies, between agencies and freelancers, and between agencies and clients.
Yes, if you have an anonymous tip, you can also pitch that … but Conn will only use tips from people who reveal who they are to him, so he's sure you're a reliable source before he relays the tip to the world at large.
One final note -- You don't get any extra points for being Canadian. In fact, nearly 100% of Conn's coverage is about the US. He says, "We're not a Canadian publication. The only time we focus on Canadian news is when it's too sexy not to touch."Deadlines:
Issues publish every month on the 15th, so try to get your story pitches in by at least the 8th. If it's really special, Conn can fit some items in later than that. (One of the joys of 'e' vs. print publishing.)Submitting pre-written contributions:
Yes, you can definitely get your opinion piece, trend piece, or essay on the state of the ad industry published if Conn thinks its right for his readership. Don't submit stuff that's available for other publications as well -- Conn only deals in exclusives.
Your best bet is to email him a pitch before writing your piece so you know if it has a good shot or not, before you go to the trouble of writing it. Average columns are 650-800 words, although you can run as long as 1,200 if you really need to. Conn will edit your work a bit before publication, "to make it read incredibly well, as though someone's telling you over the phone and they're the most articulate person alive."Becoming a regular columnist:
Again, yes. Although you've got to be really exceptional to land a column, it could happen. Right now Conn is especially interested in one-off or multiple column pitches on the topics of media buying or print advertising.
When you pitch him, include links to 2-3 articles you've written in the past. If nothing's available, then you may want to invent some samples of what your column would be like.
Conn's a very supportive managing editor for columnists. He'll call you to chat about your column's subject before you write it, and help you sketch out an editorial calendar you can stick to.Where you can meet Conn
He hopes to make it to the Clios or the One Show this year, but like most companies, travel budgets are tight now. He'll definitely be at the Toronto-based Marketing Awards.
Although he's hard to meet in person, Conn welcomes get-to-know-you phone calls from advertising professionals. He loves discussing the latest campaigns, hearing opinions and dissecting rumors. And it's a great way to make sure he'll call you as a named source next time he needs one for a story.Conn's favorite business publications
Ad Age, Marketing Magazine (Canadian), CreativePro ezine