CONDE CONTENT: Condé Nast is going native — and so are its editors.
Like rival media firms, the publisher said Monday that it has created a new content studio called “23 Stories by Condé Nast.”
But unlike most of its rivals, editors will be directly involved in creating content, which could dull the reputation of some of its newsier publications, such as The New Yorker.
The 23 Stories, whose name is inspired by the 23 floors that editors and creative teams inhabit in Condé Nast’s new headquarters at One World Trade Center in New York, will develop and produce sponsored content for advertisers and marketers. According to the New York-based firm, the mission of the new division is to “provide consumer engagement” for advertising partners through content developed by “editorial teams” at the company and by Condé Nast Entertainment.
The entity reports to chief marketing officer Edward Menicheschi and is headed by vice president of marketing solutions Pat Connolly with art director Raul Martinez consulting. The video development and production team will be run by a CNE executive, who will be named shortly.
“CNE has quickly become one of the fastest-growing premium digital video businesses,” said CNE president Dawn Ostroff. “Our programming development strategy has connected with upscale Millennial audiences, and we’re looking forward to further bringing that expertise to our marketing partners through 23 Stories by Condé Nast.”
“Condé Nast has the best brands and the most creative talent in the business,” said Anna Wintour, artistic director of Condé Nast. “The industry is evolving, and so too are our ways of storytelling. It is exciting to have new opportunities that will allow the vision and intelligence of our editorial teams to reach consumers.”
The use of editors to work on both edit and ad content has traditionally been a no-no in the world of publishing — until recently.
At Hearst, digital magazine editors are called upon to work on both edit and sponsored copy, blurring the lines between editorial and advertising. Other media companies, such as The New York Times, employ two staffs; one for editorial, one for branded content generation.
Last year, Time Inc. chief executive officer Joe Ripp created an eight-person native advertising unit headed up by chief content officer Norman Pearlstine. The formation of the group turned heads because it mandated select editorial staff to work alongside the advertising side.
Editorial purists criticized the unit, which is headed up by vice president Chris Hercik, who retained his role as Sports Illustrated creative director, and by Mark Ford, corporate head of advertising. Pearlstine told WWD in August that Hercik’s dual role posed little problem when it comes to damaging the company’s journalistic credibility.
“He happens to be the creative director at Sports Illustrated, a magazine that doesn’t cover the people whom we’re working on,” the exec said. “He’s a brilliant creative director with a wonderful commercial mind. The place we’ll have to be careful is if there are packages that he’s working on would somehow involve Sports Illustrated. He’s going to have to recuse himself from doing anything at the magazine itself that would raise conflict. It’s my job to ensure that it doesn’t happen.”
Months later, in November, Pearlstine had compared editors to marketers when interviewed by Alex Jones at the Bryant Park Grill here.
“You ought to have a measure for editors. They ought to be judged by renewal rates, by subscriptions, by newsstand sales or whatever measure is appropriate, whether it’s uniques or page views or video downloads,” Pearlstine said. “While that is something I’ve never been able to persuade anyone of, the idea that an editor thinks of himself or herself as a marketer, thinks of himself or herself as someone who is actually responsible for that customer’s experience, seems so obvious to me. I’ve never understood why it wasn’t encouraged.”