And hardly anyone stayed put.
The magazine scene in 1994 had more than its usual share of turmoil. The revolving door spun off its hinges and plenty of high-profile publishing executives ended up in a land called “special projects.”
The year kicked off with the return of Ronald A. Galotti to Conde Nast from arch rival Hearst Magazines. His arrival at Vogue just 10 months after his dismissal at Conde Nast’s Vanity Fair had a domino effect not only at Conde Nast but at several fashion magazines, as executives scrambled to fill a series of openings.
For starters, his arrival virtually forced the departure of Anne Sutherland Fuchs from Conde Nast and opened up the Esquire job at Hearst, eventually filled by former Self and New Yorker publisher, Lawrence Burstein. Diane Silberstein, in turn, joined the New Yorker from Elle and HB’s Carl Portale jumped into the Elle spot.
Amid all the scrambling, this year’s “in thing” was for publishers and editors to be kicked upstairs to a corporate post, whether in new media, corporate sales or developing European business. Most don’t sit in corporate heaven too long, however, and usually end up at the competition.
Witness Carl Portale. Harper’s Bazaar, which desperately tried but failed to keep its momentum going from a year ago when it posted a 58 percent gain in ad pages, removed Portale from the publisher’s post this summer and replaced him with his number two — Jeannette Chang. This scenario was prompted by the arrival of Fuchs, who gave up her corporate post at Condé Nast developing European business to assume the publishing helm of Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and Town & Country.
Still, Harper’s Bazaar slipped into the third spot in the fashion category this summer, behind Vogue and Elle, and hasn’t been able to pull itself out. It ended 1994 down 8.5 percent in ad pages.
While flat in January, HB publisher Chang is looking for a 10 percent increase in the first quarter. “I’m getting it from increased fashion and drugstore-oriented products, like Neutrogena, as well as automotives,” she said.
Vogue, meanwhile, had its own share of problems. While the magazine finished the year 3.5 percent down in ad pages after a 0.6 percent decline in 1993, Galotti said that when he came aboard it was forecasted to be down 13 percent for the year. He also noted that for the second half, Vogue was “dead even” in pages and “up in revenues.” For 1995, Galotti said he expects to be up 7 percent in the first quarter.
Elle spent much of the latter half of the year trumpeting the fact that it moved into the second-place position behind Vogue.
Despite losing its publisher in October, Elle managed to keep the increases coming with a major assist from the corporate buy at parent Hachette Filipacci. Car and electronics ads abounded, as corporate business tripled over the last two years in the magazine. Elle ended 1994 10 percent ahead in ad pages.
For the first quarter of 1995, Portale told WWD he expects to be up 21 percent. He attributes the gain to “the Italians and French who have returned, and retailers, who have also returned.”
W, which moved ahead 12.6 percent in ad pages, is also looking for a strong first quarter. According to Stephanie George, publisher, she expects ad pages to be up about 10 percent. She attributes that to growth in fashion and retail advertising categories, as well as the European business, particularly the Italians.
Allure remained a picture of stability all year. Not only was its publisher, Alexandra Golinkin, named “Publisher of the Year,” by Conde Nast (of course, she was one of the few publishers who remained in her post all year), but it had the most impressive advertising results among the fashion and beauty magazines. Allure was up 14.6 percent in ad pages this year, on top of a 53 percent gain a year ago.
For the first quarter of 1995, the magazine expects a 45 percent surge in ad pages, said Golinkin.
On the flip side, Mademoiselle, which had an awful time this year bringing in business, posted a 24.7 percent decline in ad pages for the year, after 1993’s nearly flat performance.
However, its publisher, Julie Lewit-Nirenberg, says that circulation grew 15 percent in the first half of 1994, averaging 1.29 million. She said newsstand sales were up 20 percent.
So what went wrong? “With all those changes last year, we had a new editor and a new art director, who came in during September/October (1993). Seventy five to 80 percent of advertising is planned between August and November. I had no magazine to sell. People hated Lucy Sisman’s design. The November cover, which featured Kate Moss in braids, cost me 300-plus pages. All I was getting was cancellations,” Lewit-Nirenberg explained.
Self also named a new publisher this year — Beth Fuchs Brenner — and wound up the year 6.4 percent ahead in ad pages. Brenner predicts Self will be up in ad pages 10 percent for January and February. She noted that advertisers such as Revlon, Almay and Avon are back, and she’s carrying ads from Wonderbra, Calvin Klein hosiery and a new milk campaign. “We also broke IBM. We’re the only women’s magazine at Condé Nast to get that business,” she said.
After failing to turn around its lagging ad page performance, Vanity Fair abruptly changed publishers in June, replacing Kathy Neisloss Leventhal with Mitchell Fox, then publisher of Details. Vanity Fair still had a hard time, but not as bad as last year, where it wound up 20 percent down in ad pages. For 1994, Vanity Fair had a 12.5 percent decrease in ad pages.
Fox claims that the hard times are over. In the first half of 1994, Vanity Fair was down 21 percent, but the second half was off only 6 percent in ad pages. For 1995, Fox said the business is expected to be up 12 percent. Mirabella, meanwhile, still lives. The magazine ended the year with a 3 percent ad gain and a new editor in chief, Dominique Browning. It was the latest in a series of musical chairs at the top, and the former editor, Gay Bryant, ended upstairs in “special projects.”