Conde Nast is preparing to lay off a number of employees from its Media Group, a high-profile division formed in 2004 that handles many of the magazine publisher's largest deals, according to Ad Age, which reported the news earlier this week. Although precise figures were not available, it seems that a significant portion of the group's 135 employees are to be cut. No word on the fate of Richard Beckman, one of Conde Nast's top executives and head of the Media Group.
The obvious culprit is the sharp economic downturn, which has cut a wide swath across most traditional media in the last six months. At Conde Nast, the recession has resulted in the temporary suspension of Fashion Rocks, a fashion-industry blowout during New York's Fashion Week that was overseen by the Media Group. The last year has also seen the closing of Conde's Golf for Women, Men's Vogue and Domino, and steep declines in ad pages at almost every other Conde Nast title.
Of course, every major magazine publisher has reported big drops in ad pages, and magazine closings have become widespread. According to MIN Online, total ad pages for monthly magazines fell 21.5% in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the same period in 2008. Declines are accelerating, with a 19% drop in February followed by a 26% drop in March. Big titles that folded in 2009 include Country Home, Wondertime, Teen, Mountain Time, Figure, Hallmark Magazine, Travel & Leisure Golf, Best Life and Tennis Week.
Hachette Partners with StyleFeeder
Hachette Filipacchi Media has formed a strategic partnership with StyleFeeder, an online shopping service that produces personal product recommendations for consumers as well as e-commerce functions. Under the terms of the deal, StyleFeeder will generate shopping recommendations for visitors to Elle.com, the Web site of Hachette's flagship fashion title, and also handle e-commerce. In return, Hachette will be the exclusive ad sales partner for StyleFeeder. In the second stage of the partnership, StyleFeeder will begin introducing the same services to Hachette's other magazine Web sites.
Amex, Time Inc., and CNN Bring Back Travel Guide
American Express Publishing, Time Inc., and CNN are reviving a collaborative travel guide that first debuted last year, but with a new focus on nearby destinations in recognition of the rough economy. This year's version of the cross-platform guide, Weekend Getaways, covers easy trips that can be made at minimal expense to regional destinations near big cities. In addition to the print presence, via pullout booklets in various Amex and Time Inc. titles, Weekend Getaways will have TV segments on CNN and an online presence courtesy of all three partners. The entire package is sponsored by Infiniti, the luxury car brand.
Ad Age Cuts Frequency
Beset by the same woes that afflict the industry it covers, Advertising Age magazine is cutting back its frequency from 50 issues per year to 43 or 44, according to the New York Post. Jonah Bloom, Ad Age's editor, was quoted as saying: "We'll reduce the printing and distribution overhead rather than making reductions in the newsroom." So far, the well-known trade pub has managed to avoid cuts in the editorial staff, although four people were laid off from the publishing side last December.
Hachette Promotes Smith to SVP, Chief Brand Officer
The former publisher of Elle, Carol Smith, has been promoted to senior vice president and chief brand officer for the Elle Group. Anne Welch, previously the associate publisher for Elle, has been promoted to vice president and brand publisher. Also, Brent Allen, the executive director of marketing, was promoted to vice president of brand development.