CARBON COPY BLUEPRINTS: When Advertising Age reported last week the new magazine in development at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia would be called Blueprint, several editors in the lifestyle sector were stumped. According to a source with knowledge of both MSLO and Time Inc., a very similar concept with the same title was pitched to Ann Moore and other Time Inc. executives at Moore’s “Kitchen Timer” magazine idea day last March. (Moore calls it the “Kitchen Timer” because at the start of each presentation, she puts a cooking timer on the table, sets it to 30 minutes and says, “Go.”) The name isn’t the only curious aspect of the two projects. The team that went before Moore and her timer was made up of editors from Real Simple. The team developing Blueprint at MSLO includes three former Real Simple staffers, who were all already at MSLO at the time of the Time Inc. pitch.
But however long the odds of two media companies coming up with such remarkably similar ideas almost simultaneously, it seems this really was a case of convergent evolution. MSLO applied for the trademark to use Blueprint as the title of a general interest magazine on Dec. 2, 2004. A spokeswoman for that company said editors there were discussing the idea and the name Blueprint at least by October of that year, possibly earlier. They had been working on the concept since late 2003. Meanwhile, a Real Simple spokeswoman said its editors began developing their concept in mid-September of 2004, though they didn’t arrive at the Blueprint name until early January 2005.
“I do truly believe it was a coincidence,” said one lifestyle editor with ties to both publications. Besides, the editor added, if either side was going to recycle an idea, why wouldn’t they at least change the name? “You have the same DNA,” the editor said. “People have been working on the same types of magazines. There’s a logical next place to go.”
And, it seems, both teams zeroed in on a location that was within inches of each other. Both Blueprints were pitched as all-encompassing lifestyle titles for women starting out in life. They both aimed to cover home, entertaining and some fashion and beauty, though Real Simple’s spokeswoman pointed out that Time Inc.’s Blueprint, which will not go forward, would have been aimed at twentysomethings, a slightly younger audience than the thirtysomethings MSLO is evidently going after.
This story first appeared in the December 1, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“After extensive research, we decided that Real Simple already meets the needs of the twentysomething audience,” she said. “After all, we have as many readers [aged] 25 to 35 as we do 35 to 45.”
Over at MSLO, details on its project are still closely guarded since, as a source explained, it’s a public company and no final decisions about the magazine’s title or launch can be made until the board has given approval. Martha Stewart did briefly discuss the project on “Larry King Live” recently, though. In an unusually candid moment, after King asked if Stewart had a “blueprint” for the new magazine, Stewart, thinking he was referring to the magazine’s working title, said, “Yes, you’ve read about that.” She went on to say, “It’s a magazine for the younger demographic and really the subtitle is ‘Design your own life.’ ‘Design your life.’ So we’re helping people design their lives.”
The tag line of the discarded Time Inc. Blueprint would have been, “The Building Blocks to Modern Life.”
— Sara James