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PART OF THE PLAN: As the attempted rehabilitation of Britney Spears’ reputation goes on, the singer-tabloid star has just signed her first apparel endorsement — with Candie’s, which is sold exclusively at Kohl’s. In conjunction with her upcoming tour that kicks off today in New Orleans, Spears will be featured in a campaign that will run in print, TV, in-store at Kohl’s and online. Kohl’s and Candie’s will also be part of Spears’ promotional activities, and, in true multimedia cross-platforming, the pop star will wear Candie’s apparel, footwear and accessories in a music video off her current album, “Circus.” “There is a perfect synergy between our Candie’s girls and Britney’s fan base, and to be able to partner with her during such a monumental time in her career is very exciting for the brand,” said Dari Marder, chief marketing officer, Iconix Brand Group Inc. — without any hint of irony. — A.W.
WIDENING THE WEB: It’s been three years since the creation of Hearst Magazines Digital Media and the tweaking goes on. After relaunching its own brands online, and acquiring a few along the way, the operation will relaunch Cosmopolitan by the end of the year, and there are plans to debut another content vertical, although Chuck Cordray, senior vice president and general manager, declined to say what it will include. Since breaking off from the iVillage platform in 2007, sites that were given significant facelifts or relaunched last year include Redbook, Esquire, Marie Claire, House Beautiful and Good Housekeeping. So far this year, Veranda’s site debuted in February and Marie Claire was relaunched.
Hearst is also planning to introduce a wireless electronic reader, which will be the size of a standard piece of paper. According to a report on fortune.com, Hearst and its partners plan to sell the e-readers to publishers and take a cut of the revenue from selling magazines and newspapers on the devices. A spokesman at the company said there is no launch date yet and the device is being developed out of Hearst Interactive Media, which invests in technology companies.
As the company’s interactive media division works on making an ad-friendly wireless device, its advertising on its digital brands is moving along. Cordray expects advertising to be up 30 to 40 percent for the first quarter, although comparisons with the previous year are difficult given relaunches and acquisitions. Ad revenue was up 73 percent in 2008 over 2007 and ad impressions have doubled. Cordray said the division is on a trajectory to becoming profitable by 2010, and Hearst Magazines has 7 to 10 percent of its revenues coming from digital.
New advertisers this year include Wal-Mart, Sears, Gap, Target Beauty and Levi’s. According to ComScore, all the sites operated by Hearst Magazines Digital Media see 20 million unique visitors a month. And the digital efforts at Hearst — as at other magazine companies — continue to be a significant driver of new subscriptions. A spokeswoman said 25 percent of its subscription business is online now, and more than 90 percent that order online are first-time subscribers, while 30 percent buy more than one title. In total, Hearst had 2.2 million subscriptions from the Web in 2008, versus 1.1 million the year before. — Amy Wicks
THE RESTRUCTURINGS GO ON: Rodale on Tuesday laid off nearly 20 sales employees as the company shifted its top sales executives across Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Prevention, and consolidated the sales staffs for Men’s Health and Women’s Health into one team. One of those departing will be Prevention publisher Bob Ziltz. To succeed him, Mary Murcko, who had been publisher of Women’s Health since 2006, will move over to Prevention to become senior vice president, publisher. Meanwhile, Men’s Health publisher Jack Essig was promoted to senior vice president and will serve as publisher for both Men’s Health and Women’s Health. The reshuffling is the second round of layoffs for Rodale as nearly all publishers have retrenched in recent months to battle the economic downturn; the publisher in November dismissed 111 employees across several divisions, or 10 percent of the company’s workforce. The changes come as Men’s Health and Prevention have lost a quarter of their ad pages during the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period a year ago; Women’s Health has performed slightly better, reporting a 19 percent decline in paging, according to Media Industry Newsletter.
Meanwhile, further restructuring has been unveiled at Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., home to Elle, Elle Decor and Women’s Day. The company is dividing its women’s titles into three brand groups, led by Carol Smith, senior vice president and chief brand officer of the Elle Group, Deborah Burns senior vp and chief brand officer of the luxury design group, which includes Elle Decor and Metropolitan Home, and Carlos Lamadrid, senior vp and chief brand officer of the Woman’s Day Group. Alain Lemarchand, president and chief executive, said this move is about updating the company’s structure and its evolution from publishing print magazines into becoming a media company. The changes were first reported in The Wall Street Journal Monday.
The following editors in chief of women’s titles have also been named vice president, brand content: Roberta Myers, vp for Elle Group; Margaret Russell vp for Elle Decor; Donna Warner vp for Metropolitan Home and Jane Chesnutt is senior vp for the Women’s Day group. The Elle Group is looking for a vp, brand publisher, and vp brand development, which are both new positions. — Stephanie D. Smith and A.W.