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ELLE DECOR: IF IT AIN’T BROKE…: Elle Decor on Monday promoted executive editor Michael Boodro to the role of editor in chief, effective Wednesday. Boodro succeeds Margaret Russell, who spent 20 years at the Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. shelter title before being lured earlier this month by Condé Nast to take over its struggling (and last-remaining) home magazine, Architectural Digest. Robin Domeniconi, Elle and Elle Decor’s new senior vice president and chief brand officer, told WWD she interviewed between five and 10 candidates for the position before deciding on Boodro. “It was sitting under my nose, who I should turn to in the first place, but I felt the obligation to talk to [other people],” Domeniconi said. “This team has worked together so well in the past. By promoting and keeping Michael, we were able to promote and keep the most important people behind the brand,” among them design and decoration editor Anita Sarsidi, who was bumped up to design director; art director Florentino Pamintuan, who will be creative director, and Vicky Lowry, formerly executive editor of elledecor.com, who will be Boodro’s number two as executive editor on the print side.
To many in media and home-design circles, the decision to promote from within seemed to reflect Hachette execs’ general contentment with the magazine as Russell defined it — and a commitment to maintaining the status quo rather than to change or innovation.
Which just reinforces that old chestnut: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Year to date, the title’s ad pages are up about 25 percent over last year, to 668, according to Media Industry Newsletter. And Elle Decor’s first-half newsstand sales rose 8.3 percent, to 87,215, compared with the first half of last year, while its total paid and verified circulation increased 14.5 percent, to 593,945, according to data provided to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Most of those gains had little if anything to do with Boodro, since they occurred on Russell’s watch — underscoring what a coup her recruitment was (and what a blow it was to Elle Decor). At least for Boodro, this is a chance to sit atop the masthead: He’s been executive editor at the magazine twice, between 2004 and 2006, before returning to the job in 2009. In his time away, he was editor in chief of the ill-fated Culture & Travel and editor in chief of Martha Stewart Living, where he stayed for two years. His résumé also includes stints at The New York Times Magazine, Garden Design Magazine and Vogue.
Domeniconi said Boodro has some great ideas for adding “a little warmth and soul to the perfection” of Elle Decor, but made it clear he won’t be making over the magazine. “Margaret took this brand to places no one really thought it could go,” she said. “What Michael brings to the table is [the ability to] continuously take what Margaret has done and elevate it. It’s basically like we have this wonderful entrée — all we need to do is add a little salt and pepper and some spices.”
In other news from the shelter magazine world, Veranda has a new publisher to match its new(ish) editor, Dara Caponigro. On Monday afternoon, the magazine tapped Jennifer Levene Bruno, formerly associate publisher, advertising, at fellow Hearst title House Beautiful, to lead its advertising and marketing operations as publisher, effective Sept. 1. Bruno succeeds Sims Bray Jr., who will stay on as a consultant through the end of the year.