Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fast Co 144, Bus Week 080

The October issue of Fast Company just arrived via snail mail and I'm comparing it with the September 21st issue of Business Week. As the entry title shows, FC has 144 pages in this issue, compared with BW's 080 (that's how the designers styled the magazine's page numbering format so I'll respect their structure even though I think it's pretentious).

FC appears to have more ads plus an advertorial. Here's my quick list of the major display ads in each mag:

FC
Porsche, IBM, Xerox, Appleton rum, Lexus, Principal Financial Group, NEC, SCAD, University for Creative Careers; Michigan; UnitedHealthcare; Dell; Dish Network; Allstate; GM's Lincoln; Budweiser; Louisiana; MarriottRewards; Ad Tech NY; 3M; U of Chicago Booth School of Business; USPS; Las Vegas (2x); AIGA Design Conference; Verizon Wireless; Ally Bank; Library at Hudson in NYC; Panasonic Toughbook; AT&T Global; Dymo; GoToMeeting; Turkish Airlines; American Airlines; Morgans Hotel Group; 1&1; Alibaba.com; Mercedes-Benz.

BW
Ford; S.C. Johnson's Edge; NEC; Sprint; SkyTeam; Prudential; Wells Fargo Advisors; SAS; Yale-New Haven Hospital; International Monetary Systems; Kyocera; GrantThornton; Zurich HelpPoint; Xerox; Advertorial section on financial literacy; T. Rowe Price; USPS; Verizon Wireless; Bose; Salvation Army; Harvard Business School; U.C. Davis M.I.N.D. Institute; E*Trade; GEICO; IBM; Trend Micro.

For the record, I was a loyal BW subscriber for 25 years, dropped the mag last year but then started it again (this time using frequent flyer miles to buy). The editors and writers really know their stuff, they write well, they write concisely, and every issue has at least one story that I rip out and file for future reference. For an all-around review of what's happening in business and in-depth analysis of key firms/industries, BW is my go-to mag.

I started getting FC years ago when it debuted, stopped when I had difficulty differentiating between the ads and the articles because the design didn't clarify which was which. Thanks to frequent flyer miles, I'm again a subscriber and this time around, I like what I see. The cutting-edge coverage of social media and convergence is an important strength. This month's focus on Masters of Design was particularly interesting and such behind-the-scenes analyses of trends are an important reason why I look forward to FC.

Both mags have excellent, info-packed websites and blogs that deliver far more than the printed page can carry and more than any one subscriber could hope to read. Take a look at Fast Company and at BusinessWeek, then decide for yourself.

What will happen after BW is sold? I hope advertisers will clearly understand that there's a place for both mags. The challenge is to sharpen the differentiation, aim to build a particular audience for each mag with great editorial in every issue, and show advertisers that their messages will reach the targeted readers.

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