Mags To Their Digital Units: Drop Dead

Funny how the parallel universe works: the same magazine publishers who were touting digital last year because, well, print sucked, are now going to spend about $90 million talking about how print rules as the economy shows signs of an uptick. Five of the leading publishers — Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) Hearst, Condé Nast, Wenner Media and Meredith (NYSE: MDP) — have banded together for this “power of print” campaign, reminiscent of a similar campaign by newspaper publishers a few years ago, when the world was slightly rosier. WSJ reports that the ad campaign will be launched at an industry event tomorrow in SF, and the ads will start appearing in May editions of the participating mags.

One ad says: “The Internet is fleeting. Magazines are immersive.” Another one, to run in ESPN (NYSE: DIS) magazine, features Michael Phelps, with the headline “We surf the Internet. We swim in magazines.” Really? This is the message you want to send your own digital units? This after four of these five names are part of a digital JV Next Issue Media, meant to develop new digital formats as the print revenues keep eroding.

And of course who else but the troglodyte Jann Wenner to “orchestrate” this campaign, the guy whose magazine Rolling Stone can’t figure out how to keep a domain name up; and oh wait, who outsources the running of the mag website to *RealNetworks*, until late last year. That Wenner. Good luck, the other four.