2006 has exacted a grim toll among the ranks of celebrity and fashion mags targeting young women. The first sweep of the scythe hit fluffy, perky titles aimed at teen girls: in April, American Media closed Celebrity Living Weekly after just a year, in spite of seemingly strong performance in ad pages and a guaranteed circulation of 225,000. At the same time, Hachette Filipacchi closed Elle Girl, even though the title posted a 9.4 percent increase in ad pages and a 38.4 percent increase in ad revenue in March compared with the same month in 2005, according to figures from the Publishers' Information Bureau (PIB).
More recently, in July, Time Inc. announced that it will close Teen People--which according to its publisher, saw total ad pages for the first half of 2006 fall 14.4 percent from 2005, while ad revenue fell over 10 percent in the same time period. And last week Hearst announced that it's closing Shop, Etc. and Weekend.
It's unclear whether For Me will maintain a Web presence, as both Elle Girl and Teen People plan to after closing their print editions. Those mags' publishers positioned the move to a Web-only presence as a strategic adjustment targeting teenage girls where they spend much of their time. But Samir Husni, a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi and expert on the magazine industry, was skeptical: "The beauty of the Web is it gives magazine publishers the excuse--'We're not really killing the thing, we're staying on the Web.'"
A magazine that aspires to help its readers shed some weight, has been putting on some of its own. But that's a good thing. In fact, when we put it on the office scale, the September/October issue of Weight Watchers magazine weighed in at a healthy 14.2 ounces. While that's not nearly as obese as the kilogram class of some bridal books and the fall editions of some fashion titles, it nonetheless marks a hefty gain for WW. With 97.5 ad pages, the issue is 15 percent fatter than in 2005, and is the biggest in the magazine's 15-year history.
Blueprint Builds Ad Pool
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's new magazine Blueprint may just succeed where For Me failed, if ad pages are anything to go by. The title's second issue packs 51 pages from national brands--up from 47.5 for the inaugural issue--including many repeat advertisers. "They came back because they wanted to, not because we made them sign some two-issue agreement," noted Publisher Sally Preston. Overall, Preston said, "we'll probably over-deliver on the guaranteed circulation of 250,000, and by 2007 we feel very comfortable that we'll reach 400,000."
Indeed, the interest of advertisers suggest that MSLO's gamble on younger women is paying off. Blueprint is a relative rarity among craft and lifestyle mags because it skews somewhat younger than MSLO's other titles, targeting women ages 25-45. According to Preston, that means it gets ads for new products while still drawing from the same categories as MSLO's other pubs. Categories include "alcohol, retail, home, fashion, beauty, and automotive," but with products like Jose Cuervo tequila and Calvin Klein's more youthful clothing lines.
The uptick comes on the heels of strong circulation and newsstand figures for MSLO's other mags in the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) FAS-FAX report, including a remarkable continuing comeback for flagship Martha Stewart Living--which saw overall circ grow 3.9 percent, in part because of a 4.3 percent rise in newsstand sales. Meanwhile, MSLO's Everyday Food had 20.2 percent growth in subs and 3.3 percent growth in newsstand, and Martha Stewart Weddings recorded 6.6 percent growth in subs and 9.8 percent growth in newsstand.
Whitaker to Leave Newsweek
Mark Whitaker, editor of Newsweek since 1998, will leave the magazine to focus on developing its Web property beginning next week, the publication announced Thursday. Jon Meacham, currently the mag's managing editor, will take over the position. The move comes not long after arch-rival Time announced its own editorial reshuffling as well as a new Friday publication date. Whitaker was the author of a controversial, disputed story alleging deliberate desecration of the Q'uran by U.S. personnel guarding suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.
FHM Fires Five
FHM laid off three editors, an art director, and its fashion director last week, in a move reducing the mag's fashion focus. Those let go are Elisabeth Dick, a fashion editor, Meghan Conaton, an associate editor, Mark Yarm, an associate editor, Sean Johnston, an art director, and Anthony Wright, the title's first fashion director. Recently, the magazine has struggled with declining paid circulation and newsstand sales. According to the most recent ABC FAS-FAX report, paid subs declined 1.8 percent to about 883,000 during the six months ending in June compared to the same period last year, while newsstand sales dropped 6.6 percent to about 368,000.