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DRUMMING UP BUSINESS: Hearst Magazines staged an event Tuesday afternoon to drum up advertiser support for 2014. Calling it a “magfront,” it was the company’s own spin on the television networks’ upfronts.
Celebrities, including actress Sarah Jessica Parker and model Miranda Kerr, were rolled out as eye candy in between rah-rah speeches from mere mortal Hearst executives. Press was not invited to cover. Instead, updates from the proceedings were live-tweeted by a nameless public relations drone. The most significant news out of the event was the increased rate base for five titles next year, including HGTV, which was launched last summer, to one million from 700,000, and Esquire, Food Network, Town & Country and Harper’s Bazaar, though these titles did not offer other specifics. Town & Country Travel is returning once a year as a “stand-alone issue,” according to a spokeswoman, available at newsstands and mailed to subscribers.
In the manner of other magazines and newspapers eager to drum up new sources of revenue wherever they can, several of Hearst’s titles are expanding into the conference business — Town & Country, Cosmopolitan and Cosmo for Latinas. The event was also the most prominent coming out for the new magazine by television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was interviewed by editorial director Ellen Levine. The title will be Dr. Oz The Good Life.
Troy Young, digital media president, previewed the overhauls of the Web sites of several of the titles, which have been reorganizing their digital editorial staffs with layoffs and new hires.
And if readers this year didn’t have enough magazine anniversaries, strap on because more are on the way, like Marie Claire’s 20th and Seventeen’s 70th. The teen magazine will also get its own new YouTube channel. In all, the newfangled upfront lasted a little over two hours.
As 2013 draws to a close, magazine executives are playing an upbeat tune — Michael Clinton, president, marketing and publishing director, said the portfolio had its biggest combined circulation in history, including the largest digital audience. Meanwhile, Hearst rival Condé Nast on Tuesday did some boasting of its own. Chief executive officer Charles Townsend wrote in a company-wide message that “2013 is shaping up to be a year of strong economic recovery for us.” Like Hearst, Condé saw a growth in digital profits, which, Townsend said, are now “significantly contributing to our financial results, which as you know, have historically been dominated by print.”