IN AND OUT: Mary Berner made yet another high-level change at Reader’s Digest Association, poaching Peggy Northrop, editor in chief of More since 2004, to help revamp the aging flagship title. Northrop, who replaces Jackie Leo as Reader’s Digest’s editor in chief, will also sit on RDA’s executive committee, and will report directly to Berner. She’ll also face a longer commute — Northrop lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., while Reader’s Digest is based in Pleasantville, N.Y.
A day before the announcement, Northrop attended a party at The Modern to celebrate More fashion columnist Charla Krupp’s new book. Staffers seemed to have no idea at the party that Northrop would reveal her departure the next morning, and were shocked by the news.
According to a source close to the situation, Berner tried to lure Northrop over to RDA for months, but Northrop declined. Finally, Berner offered her what is said to be double her salary at Meredith Corp., and Northrop agreed. “She’s a great talent with a loyal following by both readers and staffers,” said Eva Dillon, Reader’s Digest president and group publisher.
Berner also lured another employee from Meredith’s ranks — Vanessa Reed, group associate publisher at More and Fitness — although Reed returned to her old job at Meredith after only three months. Northrop will stay at More until Thanksgiving. Leo left the magazine Friday after six years as editor in chief.
Though the money is lucrative, some are surprised Northrop didn’t leave for a higher-level position at RDA. “It’s a lateral move,” said one observer, who pointed out More is “hot” while Reader’s Digest is a hugely challenged franchise. Under Northrop’s watch, More was named Advertising Age’s 2006 Magazine of the Year and nominated for a National Magazine Award for General Excellence. Circulation for More in the past three years has grown from about 960,000 to 1.2 million as of June, according to figures from Audit Bureau of Circulations. Now Northrop will join a print property in need of revitalizing. Reader’s Digest will cut its rate base to 8 million from 10 million in January, while simultaneously unveiling a redesign complete with a new logo, which Leo oversaw.
As for who could replace Northrop at More, Meredith editorial director Mike Lafavore said he already has names in mind. “I always have a list of people, you know, in case someone gets hit by a bus. You’re not doing a responsible job [as editorial director] if you’re not thinking about what would happen if.” — Stephanie D. Smith
This story first appeared in the November 12, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
EUROPE, VIA MANHATTAN: The streets of New York served as the backdrop for Elie Tahari’s upcoming spring campaign, described as more energetic and spontaneous than past seasons by Rory Tahari, vice chairman and creative director. Harper’s Bazaar senior fashion editor Melanie Ward styled the shoot, while the ever-risqué Terry Richardson was behind the lens. For Elie Tahari, Richardson aimed to capture the nighttime mystique of an urban European street — even though it actually was shot on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
“I had never worked with Terry before, but I think he is extremely creative,” said Rory Tahari. “When we decided it would be shot on the streets of Manhattan, he seemed like a natural fit.” Raul Martinez, chief executive officer and executive creative director of AR, collaborated with Tahari on the campaign. “What we are trying to do for spring is to evolve Elie Tahari into a true lifestyle brand. I think the new campaign will begin to tell the story that identifies who this woman really is,” Martinez said. The fall campaign was shot by Mario Sorrenti. — Amy Wicks
U.K. HOUSE & GARDEN IN BLOOM: The British edition of House & Garden certainly has more life than its U.S. counterpart, which will close with the December issue. The London-based Condé Nast Publications Ltd. said it plans to continue publishing the magazine — not only that, but it’s soon to launch in Greece. “We are in the 60th year of the British edition of House & Garden and it’s our strongest year to date, with both circulation and ad revenue up,” said Nicholas Coleridge, managing director at Condé Nast Publications Ltd. He added: “The home interest sector in the U.K. is very different to that of the States — it is a sector that is prospering here, and the British edition of the magazine is equally prospering as never before. In addition, later this month, we are launching House & Garden in Greece — further evidence of the strength of the brand and the market sector in Europe.” The monthly circulation of U.K. House & Garden for the January-June period was 141,782. The magazine also increased its U.K. newsstand sales 5.3 percent in the same period. Ad pages at the title increased 9.8 percent year-on-year to 1,237 pages from 1,127. — Samantha Conti
FLYING SOLO: While the ongoing writers’ strike forced most Americans to suffer through reruns of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” the audience at Town Hall on Wednesday was privy to the comedian’s fresh material. The late-night TV personality played host at “Stand Up for Heroes,” a benefit for the Bob Woodruff family fund, presented by the New York Comedy Festival. Though much of the evening was dedicated to members of the armed forces, O’Brien couldn’t ignore the current situation with the Writers Guild of America. “I got nothin'” the comedian said to the crowd, which included a slew of media execs, including Jeff Zucker, Bob Iger and Les Moonves, “I am your host for the evening and my writers are on strike.” Still, O’Brien treated the crowd to a few zingers (“I’m the comedian that has to follow ‘Taps,'” he quipped). In addition to the talk show host, Bruce Springsteen and Robin Williams performed at the benefit. — Amanda FitzSimons
TAG TEAM: Early as it may have been, a perfectly coiffed Uma Thurman seemed pleased to emcee Tag Heuer and Glamour magazine’s first What Are You Made Of? Awards breakfast last week. Thurman, who is a brand ambassador for Heuer and appears in the company’s ads, joined Heuer North America president Ulrich Wohn, Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive and Glamour vice president and publisher Bill Wackerman and others at Condé Nast Publications Inc.’s New York headquarters at 4 Times Square to laud three women who have positively impacted their communities.
Sarah Sheehan received an honor for starting Karly’s Angels, a not-for-profit network of resources for single parents; Alison Terry, a world-class swimmer who works to help children and the disabled by providing swim lessons, and Faith Model, who launched NGO Lalob Livelihoods Programme, which helps bring social and economic empowerment to women in the Sudan. Thurman presented each winner with an engraved diamond-studded Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph watch. — Sophia Chabbott