Start the Presses

Jan 24, 2007  •  Post A Comment

While some may feel print is dying, Maggie Knoll thinks the medium is getting a new start.
Ms. Knoll was recently tapped as director of a new print group at MindShare in Chicago after more than 20 years doing strategic planning for clients including Sears, Kraft Foods, Oscar Meyer and Discover Card.
After an analysis from an initially skeptical point of view, Ms. Knoll concluded the agency needed a group that specializes in print.
The agency’s regular planning groups are increasingly being asked to come up with consumer insights and big ideas that can be used in multiple channels. At the same time, buying print has become more challenging. “You’re not just looking at an ad in the magazine, but you’re looking at their online capabilities, their event marketing opportunities, custom content development.”
Ms. Knoll believes the magazine business is taking on a new life. While some books are folding or laying people off, she notes that there are still a lot of titles being launched. “I think there’s a cleaning out of the industry, if you will. More and more of the magazines that have strong brands are taking those brands and elevating them across platforms and it’s just a lot for the planning teams to try to be on top of,” she said.
Ms. Knoll also found that there were inconsistencies across the agency’s planning teams in terms of pricing, cross-platform opportunities and even basic knowledge about the titles available to their clients.
The new team specializing in print will have more knowledge about prices, titles, audiences and multiplatform extensions. It will also do research and keep track of best practices. “It will give us a sense of which publishing company does the better job in executing from a pricing standpoint, from creativity and a solutions standpoint,” she said.
Ms. Knoll said her philosophy is to have the group work as an extension of the agency’s planning teams, able to understand the clients’ brands and consumers. That’s a task made a bit easier because the unit’s eight staffers are strategic planners that have worked on each of the agency’s accounts. “That also helps us in having that business background within the team,” she said.
Before heading the print team, Ms. Knoll was group planning director on the Sears account. While Sears has not utilized print as significantly as some other retailers, Ms. Knoll kept fighting to identify print opportunities for Sears.
One cross-platform deal with Disney and ABC Unlimited promoted Sears’ exclusive line of Winnie the Pooh apparel in Disney’s Family Fun and Wondertime magazines with a mall tour, online and on Radio Disney. In the markets where the promotion hit, sales registered double-digit increases.
She also launched Sears’ Kenmore Pro line with a program with Conde Nast that included print inserts in shelter and style publications, trade promotion, online and culinary events.
Before working on Sears, she worked on Oscar Meyer’s Lunchables brand, which embraced print to reach consumers.
For those efforts, Ms. Knoll was given the 2006 Bill Harmon Award by the Chicago Magazine Association for her dedication to print.
Ms. Knoll originally wanted to be a photojournalist. She earned a journalism and marketing degree at Northern Illinois University, but found there were few full-time jobs to be had in photojournalism. “I kind of fell back into advertising,” she said. “I was interested in the media side of it because I felt like there was a lot of opportunity to be creative in media too.
She got her first job at a Chicago agency Clinton E. Frank, and then moved to Benton & Bowles. She joined J. Walter Thompson in 1982 and became part of MindShare when the agency’s media department was spun off.
Ms. Knoll lives with her husband, who owns an insulation business, and her two daughters, Katie, 20, and Heather, 16.
“We’re avid boaters,” she said. The family bought a speed boat about 10 years ago. “It’s a great way to do things with the kids, especially when then get to be teenagers because they all look forward to going and bringing their friends with them,” she said. They spend their weekends in the summer on the water with friends, checking out different lakes in Wisconsin and Michigan, tubing, skiing and knee-boarding.
Who Knew:
Before she had kids, Ms. Knoll did freelance photo essays for local newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s Media Planner newsletter, a weekly source of breaking news, trend articles, profiles and data about media planning edited by Senior Editor Jon Lafayette.


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