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GOING, GOING…: At times during its expansion years, American Apparel’s print ads — the homemade, Helvetica-heavy affairs that typically feature models in soft-core poses sometimes shot by chief executive officer Dov Charney himself — seemed as much a part of its business plan as terry cloth booty shorts and gold lamé leggings. With the company’s financial straits seeming to grow more perilous by the day (the American Stock Exchange threatened it with delisting Tuesday, a week after the retailer itself said it may not be able to continue as a going concern), it may be time to start envisioning a world with far fewer suggestive plugs for button-downs. In its seriously delayed second-quarter earnings report, the company offered a host of ways it intends to repair its financial structure. Among other standards, such as the potential subleasing of stores and a staffing level review, American Apparel tacked on one option that couldn’t have been welcome news to a certain subset of publishers: “the selective and targeted reduction in the company’s marketing spend.”
So how much do the blogs, specialty titles and alternative weeklies, where the company typically plies its wares, stand to lose if it dramatically shrinks its ad spend? In its most recent annual report, the company listed advertising, trade show and catalogue costs of $15.4 million last year, down from $25 million in 2008. The $9.6 million reduction, it said, was mainly in advertising. The annual report also disclosed that, as of Dec. 31, it had $3.6 million in remaining contractual ad commitments in 2010. The numbers may not seem blockbuster when compared with establishment publishers, but certainly moved the needle in American Apparel’s world. The back cover of Vice magazine, a signature spot for the retailer and one it’s held since June 2003, goes for a little more than $24,000 an issue, according to the publication’s 2010 media kit.
— Matthew Lynch