JUST CALL ME CHIEF: Jim Norton is starting to put his stamp on Condé Nast. The long-anticipated reorganization of the company’s business side finally hit the halls of One World Trade Center on Thursday, boosting the morale of some and sending others out the door.
The business side reorganization comes after the New York-based publisher had already begun restructuring the editorial side at the end of last year, which included the combination of the creative, copy and photo teams, as well as the closure of Self magazine in print, among other things.
The latest restructuring had been speculated about since before Thanksgiving as observers tried to read the tea leaves of when Condé would make the changes. Usually the publisher makes them before the holidays, but in the last few years it has stretched the timing of layoffs and other cuts into the New Year.
Publishers were called in to meet with Norton, the company’s chief business officer and president of revenue, over the past two days, as the firm rushes to recast its sales side to better orient to the new reality of the media world.
Norton, who was poached from AOL in the fall, has spent the last few months poring over the company’s books to figure out how to best reorganize the magazine publisher to thrive in the digital era. As on the edit side, the business evolution entails the cutting costs and a grouping of titles.
According to an internal memo Thursday obtained by WWD, Norton told staffers: “To truly set our company up for success and take advantage of this potential, we’re modernizing our revenue teams to simplify the way we work with our partners and better leverage the extraordinary talent in our company.”
Norton’s reorientation of the business side seemed taken right out of a management consultant’s handbook. The teams are now centered around “brand collections” and “client industries” while all publishers who oversee “brand collections” will now be called “chief business officers.” (The passé title of publisher calls into mind print, and the struggling print industry is definitely not chic right now.)
Their titles will be grouped as follows: Kim Kelleher, who most recently was the publisher of Wired, will oversee Glamour, Allure, Brides, Teen Vogue and Self. Kelleher’s promotion to the role wasn’t exactly unforeseen at Condé Nast, as her attendance at Glamour’s Women of the Year event in Los Angeles in the fall stirred up rumors that she would soon oversee the title.
Chris Mitchell, who oversees Vanity Fair, will add W. Howard Mittman, who is charged with GQ and GQ Style, will add the Wired Media Group (Wired, Ars Technica and Backchannel) back to his portfolio, as well as Golf World and Golf Digest, which had been run by Peter Hunsinger, who left the firm.
Susan Plagemann will continue her role as Vogue’s “chief business officer,” as will Lisa Hughes, who runs The New Yorker’s business.
Architectural Digest, Condé Nast Traveler and the Food Innovation Group (Bon Appétit and Epicurious), will be overseen by Architectural Digest’s Giulio Capua.
As always at Conde Nast, with any ascensions come exits: Glamour publisher and chief revenue officer Connie Anne Phillips, Allure’s Agnes Chapski and Brides’ Michelle Myers have all left the company.
Clearly loving the word “chief,” beyond the “chief business officer” position Norton also has created a new group of “chief industry officers,” which focuses on specific categories. The group replaces Condé Nast Media Group – formerly overseen by Edward Menicheschi – and corporate team, as the industry leaders will work closely with the chief business officers on client strategy and business opportunities.
Lisa Valentino, former chief revenue officer of Condé Nast Entertainment and senior senior vice president of network sales for Condé, has been tapped as chief revenue officer, industry and agency. She will lead an effort that focuses on “accelerating our revenue growth inside industries, strengthening our relationships with large agency partners to generate new models and continuing to grow our data and programmatic efforts.” She will also oversee the chief industry officers, who include the following crop of newly promoted executives:
Ex-Condé Nast Traveler publisher Brendan Monaghan will now hold the role of chief industry officer of fashion and luxury, while former W publisher Lucy Kriz will grab the beauty category. Tracey Baldwin will be charged with autos, and Mike Fisher will oversee media and entertainment and retail and travel. Chris Gibbons will grab telecommunications, business and finance and Jennifer Mormile will oversee pharmaceuticals. The food, beverage and spirits industry officer will soon be named.
Working with the chief industry and chief business officers is a new crop of newly-promoted executives. In a widely expected move, Pamela Drucker Mann, the former chief revenue officer of the Food Innovation Group, will become the chief marketing officer of Condé Nast.
Former senior vice president and managing director of 23 Stories Josh Stinchcomb will grab the snazzy title of “chief experience officer,” overseeing integrated marketing solutions agency, which includes 23 Stories, the strategic packaging of all ad and data products and leading the investment and creation of a new events and experiences business, Norton said. Josh will also oversee Condé’s licensing team and art and archive departments, and work with the business officers to develop new revenue streams and solutions for clients.
Norton signed off his memo in rah-rah fashion: “It is the role of our business teams to enable our talented editorial groups to create the most provocative, engaging and exceptional content. Our new structure, as one team, will allow us to be more responsive and dynamic in our approach as we take our storied brands to new platforms and new audiences.”
With plenty of new “chiefs.”