Michael's Dispatches

Rolling Stone: Boycotting Advertisers

31 March 2011

In 2006, I launched a boycott against a magazine owned by a huge conglomerate.  The Boycott damaged the magazine but the extent was unknown.  Eight months later, the press reported that the magazine had died.  (Early Christmas Present for Michael Yon.)

The boycott was not done on a whim.  The magazine staff and other involved parties had perpetrated a series of egregious behavior before I finally decided to spend time to pursue them.  Such is the case with Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone has been around for a long time and has weathered many storms.  They may feel invincible.  Rome and the Soviet Union probably felt the same way.  In this world, cities and indeed entire countries go bankrupt.  Powerful billionaire dictators get hunted down and imprisoned, or killed.  In the corporate world, we commonly see the huge and powerful reduced to the latest example of the bigger they are the louder they squeal.  Nobody is invincible.

The boycott of Rolling Stone Magazine advertisers is gaining traction.  The magazine has deceptively attacked US Soldiers and intentionally misled readers for sake of profit and power.

Rolling Stone life-blood is based mostly on advertisement revenues.  Magazine sales off the shelf are not the driving factor.  Advertisement prices are based on circulation and demographics, and they take in a hefty sack of money for a piece of page.

There is limited value in boycotting the magazine itself.  Rolling Stone has an established readership that apparently enjoys mindless gonzo, and even if a hundred thousand people stopped reading, the damage likely would not be seismic.

In 2006, when I took on the magazine that went bankrupt, I studied their business, identified weaknesses, then focused the attacks.  Significant damage was done by people who were upset with the magazine and who began various boycotts, while other damage was caused focusing energy on attacking relationships, which amounted to another form of boycott.

With Rolling Stone, the advertiser base is a mortal weakness.  The concept of the boycott is to concentrate on advertisers and cause them to pull their advertisement dollars and put them elsewhere.  Advertisers with budgets that can cover nearly $200,000 for a single page could care less about Rolling Stone per se; they care about the number of eyes seeing their products, and who those eyes belong to.  When advertisers perceive they are losing money or goodwill from showing their product in that venue, they’ll pluck those dollars and place them elsewhere.  Advertisement executives are just moving chips around on the table, and the boycott goal is to persuade them to move their chips away from Rolling Stone, and of course if they pull their advertisement from Rolling Stone, they can potentially earn goodwill.

It’s important to stress that boycotts against advertisers are temporary until they pull their ads from the perpetrator-space.  In this case, Rolling Stone.

Most salient is the fact that advertisers in Rolling Stone gain benefit only from Rolling Stone readers, while a boycott reaches readers and nonreaders.  The pool of nonreaders will be relatively enormous.

Businesses bleed like people bleed.  If they bleed more blood than they can make, they will eventually die.  You don’t have to squeeze out every drop like a vampire, but usually just a little bit, say, maybe 20% of the advertisement revenue gone might put the magazine in a dramatic tailspin.  You might not notice it for a while because they can take cash infusions and so forth, but sooner or later they will shrivel like a raisin and just lay there.  Dead.

Many people have become angry and loudly complained about Rolling Stone, all to no avail.  The complaints merely egged them on.  It’s time to cool the blood, and with an icy cold resolve, move forward with action.  Boycott their advertisers and crush the Rolling Stone.

It is crucial during the boycott to contact advertisers to express that when the advertiser stops doing business with Rolling Stone, the boycott will end.

First go after the companies with the biggest ads, and also the companies with which you already do business.  Use social networking to share information and when there is success, say it.  Do not hesitate to buy a copy of the magazine to gain information before acting.  Much information is being shared here: Michael Yon Facebook.

Boycotts take little effort.  In 2006, I launched the effort and went back to war coverage.  You don’t have to picket and protest, but just get the word out and let nature take its course.  A strong boycott could be like a bullet with near instant results.  More likely, with Rolling Stone, a persistent but growing boycott might act like a weak neurotoxin.  Just keep dripping it out, and eventually the corporate biology will seize, and there will be spasms, and then, one day, you will open the paper and there it will be, the obituary.

Died: Mr. Rolling Stone, 45, San Francisco.  Born November 9, 1967 San Francisco, California.  Died suddenly last Friday. Mr. Stone was found slouched over an old typewriter after a brain hemorrhage, possibly resulting from an addiction to fiction in a nonfiction world. Services will be held on this Tuesday at 9am at the Church of Bankruptcy.  Burial will be in the dumpster out back behind the courthouse.

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