Please for the love of god keep in mind that this blog is completely my opinion. I really respect and admire the effort Lexus and their marketing/advertising people have put in over the years to create a truly personalized experience for customers and prospects alike. They’ve done some really creative things, things which even I have had the unique pleasure of contributing to while at the now semi-famous Rastar, doing variable data programming work. Lexus truly are cutting edge and have shown how digital printing technology can benefit everyone in the marketing supply chain, when well thought out and well executed.
I read WITH GREAT INTEREST about Time’s new “Mine Magazine”, touted by some in the print industry as the variable data savior of all that we know and love in a very problematic era. The idea is very sound: allow readers to choose their own interests and create a magazine that is directly relevant to those interests. A magazine publisher with many titles (like Time) could potentially get more subscriber interest this way. I like Travel & Leisure, Money, Food & Wine, and Time news. I don’t really care about Sports Illustrated or InStyle.
So, they can custom-make (not really, but in a way) a magazine tailored specifically to my interests. Panacea! (I like to reserve certain words for proper dramatic effect. Plus, panacea is just a cool word!) Anyway, a couple of weeks after ordering Mine, I get an email:
Thank you for subscribing to mine magazine. We want to let you know that a computer error may have affected the first issue you received this week. It’s possible that this issue did not contain the combination ofmagazine content you selected. Please know that the problem has been resolved, and that each of your subsequent issues will reflect the exact content you originally requested.
In appreciation of your support, we have extended your five-issue subscription to include a sixth free issue ofmine. You can also access real-time mine content through your smartphone device at http://mine.mwap.at.
We apologize for the inconvenience and, again, thank you for being among the very first to experience mine.
President, Time Inc. Media Group
Wow. The whole point of Mine (sorry, mine with the lower case em for added coolness), is that it is customized to my preference. Botching this one thing is the ONLY POSSIBLE mistake that would ruin the effect. They made the ONLY POSSIBLE MISTAKE that would damage their reputation. Worse, though, is that at a time when printing in general and digital printing in particular need as much good PR as an industry can get, this happens. I can hear the critics now doing the “I told you digital printing is all hype” song and dance.
I can talk. I have been personally responsible for quality control in digital printing jobs like this many, many times. I have seen mistakes like this that cause $25,000 in postage go up in smoke (another story). I’ve seen Roger’s face get printed on the back of Alex’s card, etc. The thing is, it doesn’t have to happen. Ever. Digital printing, is NOT THE SAME as traditional printing. It’s got that whole ugly database thing embedded. It really is like a landmine.
I would like to offer my services to Time Magazine as a Variable Data expert. Of course, it’s possible they have laid off all the experts as a cost cutting measure, and perhaps that’s why this happened. Just conjecture, ya know? Just conjecture. THANK GOD they got they variable elements in the Lexus ad correct. That was cool.
Read more articles about mine in the mainstream press and other blogs: