That time I tried to save Pavement magazine
I am getting a little bit of feedback today about Pavement magazine, which I partly expected after Herald on Sunday gossip columnist Rachel Glucina left a message for me on my answerphone. But I was worried her Mum would sue me so I didn’t call back immediately.
Just kidding: I have had a hectic few days, with conference calls to the US at weird hours to put me out of kilter even more with daylight saving. Funny, I do have a life, and out of civility I refuse to call people too late at night. Besides, I understand Ms Glucina has grabbed bits from this blog before, so I am sure she can do the same again.
So, what are the facts?
I felt it was a huge shame that Pavement shut its doors after 13 years last year. With Lucire proﬁts expected to head upwards after a restructuring, its editorial team strong, and facing the growth of potential new territories, I wanted to ﬁnd a way to rescue Pavement. I could get the approval of our boards and associates domestically and abroad.
But of the times I ran into Mr Bernard D. McDonald, its co-founder and editor, I was snubbed. I never got beyond hello. It was as though I had some communicable disease. And most people know I don’t insist on having an audience. It’s why I blog: you can read me if you want to, ignore me if you don’t.
As many of you remember, there have been numerous articles—too many to count—on the demise of Pavement, including the ﬁrst (from memory) in the Herald on Sunday. Journalists called it defunct, etc. and even a Pavement insider called it dead, all uncontested. Word has it—actually, evidence has it—that Mr McDonald said that he would write a book on his experiences, maybe do a ﬁlm, but he was out of the magazine business.
‘The magazine is like a child. I’m too tired to keep it going. It’s too hard,’ said Barney (as best as one witness can remember).
I hate hearing that sort of talk of abandonment. And then to read about it time and time again. He might act like a jerk but he co-created something pretty special. Never mind all that nonce talk. There were more good issues than bad.
What if Lucire could rescue something that had been abandoned? Get everything lined up, show Barney, Glen and Amanda, and Louise that there was life in the old girl yet? If they all agreed, do it together? Let Lucire raise the dough.
There’s no way it could have worked without them. Where the remaining folks were, I was unsure. The place had closed. Or so every article I read said.
The ﬁrst thing to do was to make sure every gap was ﬁlled, gaps that they neglected for 13 years, before proceeding.
We were weeks away from making a public announcement to ﬁnd the old Pavement team—I called it an ‘olive branch’ in internal documents going back a few months—when I realize the old company, through Barney, I gather, had sicked a lawyer on me.
Regular readers of this blog know how I feel about the Americanization of Kiwi business. It’s not cricket.
Apparently, trying to save jobs and operating out of sympathy is a bad thing.
And, according to this lawyer’s letter (missing a salutation, which undermined the ﬁrm’s respect), Pavement never stopped publishing magazines.
You can’t have it both ways.
Meanwhile, all we did was rely on Barney’s and others’ statements, which, as implied by his lawyer, may have been bollocks.
In good faith and total reliance on Pavement’s own words, we did everything openly, publicly and transparently—as the Intellectual Property Ofﬁce system allows—winding up with a registered trade mark that was unopposed by anyone.
[And you know what would have happened if I hadn’t acted? A foreign corporation, maybe an Australian one, would have come in, registered the trade mark, with the intent to prevent it from resurfacing.]
If anyone from the old Pavement team was concerned, I would have shared those worries—just as I did when I heard that Barney was handing out invitations to the ‘F*** off Pavement’ party. (Sounded like a farewell to me, but I understand now that ‘F*** off’ must mean ‘We will continue publishing magazines’ in Pavement-speak.)
As those inside Lucire will tell you, the prospects for Pavement were never ﬁrmly entrenched, but that they were biased toward its former team. We have at least two other titles under development for the US market, hence the lack of a “top priority” effort on Pavement. Any revival was dependent on its old crew and the opinions of its fan base, which I said from the start. We never even put up any linked web pages about it, at least not intentionally, though we had a placeholder earlier this year that only people within Lucire were told about.
Plan A, my [pre-lawyer] ideal [as of July 2007], was to mount a rescue with Lucire LLC providing the funding and handing creative control to [the] old team. We would say, ‘Don’t abandon it. You need to carry on with it.’ We would integrate a website and a few other things into it. In its 13 years—Google will prove this—Pavement failed to make a dent online. You’ll ﬁnd at least three other magazines with the Pavement name (including one on paving) in the top 10. With Lucire’s help, we would have really got a Kiwi title on the virtual map as well as back on newsstands.
What would have happened if the original post-announcement reaction was negative, especially from its founders or senior team members? If it had been what I expected of normal New Zealanders, then they could have expected a reasoned, sympathetic response. I have cultivated a reputation for 20 years and I sure as heck would not ﬂush it down the loo over one mag. I know what it’s like to work on something and nurture it, too.
Plan B: depending on negotiations, we may have asked for the company to foot some of our costs—a tiny amount compared to sicking lawyers on people—and handed them over our work, work that put the entire Pavement brand into a far stronger position, in whatever venture it would enter.
In case you are wondering, yes, Lucire has helped businesses out of charity before. And our approaches aren’t mainstream. Not many people go on to a blog and defend a competitor—as I did with Lisa Phelan and Style when they became subject to some media coverage I did not agree with. (She eventually found the post and thanked me.) Or offer to help rivals get ad artwork sorted out, gratis. Pavement fell into the same category.
Because we independent publishers are weaker individually, I believe in sticking together.
The really sad thing is, if Barney just picked up the phone or emailed me—as many of you are capable of doing—we could have sorted it out like two men, in probably a handful of civil, pleasant conversations.
A little diplomacy goes a long way. But the snub continues.
When you start contacting lawyers as your ﬁrst resort, I’m going to have to reconsider our position. Pavement Co. seems to want to equate itself to corporate America, not what I expected the Pavement name to stand for.
Lucire has been very successful at sorting out IP matters through conversation, resolving things in days. Unsurprisingly for a law ﬁrm, nice does not pay the bills.
What is happening now is that Barney’s and Pavement Co.’s legal side has backed us into a defensive position, from which we cannot be pleasant. I can ﬁght ill-informed accusations with fact, but it surprises me that folks who claimed to have been in editing and publishing couldn’t sort theirs out.
As I read it, the letter from their lawyer was an invitation for us to counter-sue, because it proposed some ridiculous facts and far-fetched solutions. Shame, really: is the old Pavement Co. interested more in getting things genuinely sorted or in being dickheads?
Mind you, this will probably get them back into the media with a longer article than the ones that had been running in 2007, so maybe it was a gigantic set-up from November 2006? It looks quite calculated, timing-wise. Even this blog entry is the longest I’ve done this week.
I spent an hour and a bit drafting a reply which took things in the direction in which I was invited to go: escalation. But I couldn’t carry the bastard act 100 per cent of the way. I left room at the end for Pavement Co. to come forward with the truth and deal honestly, like New Zealanders.
We’re going to see if it’s Snub III from the Barney McDonald side or if they will climb down to human level. If not, then we’ll know this is a media-oriented campaign, perhaps out of tall-poppy pettiness. Heck, it might even warrant a column in Lucire.
Speaking of legalities, I invite people to look at the case of Madison magazine. There seems to be a tinge of: it’s OK for Australians to go and register trade marks—even for magazines that are still running—just not New Zealanders. Kiwi Madison became Stella. A great story but, to my knowledge, it never rated on the radar of the MSM, when it could have warranted more digging than this story. I wouldn’t have minded knowing more about the behind-the-scenes happenings.
Contrary to our situation, I have a hunch that their motives were not about helping the New Zealand title, even if I understand their point of view.
On that, ladies and gentlemen, I can only sigh. I had thought we were fairer to fellow Kiwis, took them at their word, and that we got the full story. Especially if we claim to be in the media.
Posted by Jack Yan, 09:09
Yan wins as being twat of the year by trying to make us believe what he was doing was out of the goodness of his heart.
You little weasal, if you had the balls to say "yeah that idiot forgot to trademark his brand" you would have earned some respect as a tough businessman. But this disgusting faux nice guy routine, the bizarre fantasy world (all your kooky web shit), the utter shite called Lucire that everyone in fashion laughs at all make us want to see you lose a lot of money over a long drawn out court case.
Who are you anyway? No one knew you existed until you pulled this scam anyway.. are you happy you've made Glucina's column? Congrats you hit the big time Jacky Yan.
# posted by Anonymous: 10/11/2007 03:37:00 AM
I think this link is still current:Post a Comment
Ah, anonymous abuse. The last refuge of the damned.
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