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FORBES PART TWO: Forbes on Monday continued to adjust its head count for the tough economy, restructuring its sales and marketing divisions. The moves follow Friday’s layoffs that saw the company shutter forbesautos.com and its conference division, and trim head count to a bare-boned staff at forbestraveler.com. In all, 43 people have been laid off across the editorial and business sides during both days’ reorganizations. Forbes Media president and chief executive officer Steve Forbes sent a memo Monday afternoon to staffers outlining the changes, which “will enable us not only to better weather the current economic storm, but to move ahead quickly and profitably when the global economies begin recovering,” he wrote.
The sales divisions for Forbes and forbes.com will now be combined and organized into three different groups: the Brand Intelligence Group, or a handful of Forbes executives focused on meeting senior-level advertisers and marketers to spearhead custom programs, led by Kevin Gentzel, former Web ad sales chief, as president and group publisher of Forbes Media; the Integrated Solutions Group, led by president Mike Woods; and Forbes Media Sales and Service, comprised of the regional sales executives across the company, led by Avery Stirratt and Robert Pietsch, who will serve as co-presidents and chief advertising officers. Forbes conferences will now be integrated into these new sales groups. Each group leader will report to a newly formed office of the chairman, comprised of Steve Forbes; Timothy Forbes, Forbes Media president and chief operating officer, and Jim Spanfeller, president-ceo of forbes.com.
Though Monday’s consolidation focused on the business side, the edit side is soon to follow, but to what extent is unclear. “We are also strengthening and expanding the editorial integration at both Forbes and forbes.com,” Steve Forbes wrote to staff, and while both sides have shared talent where applicable for some time, “we are in the midst of conversations to discuss ways to truly integrate the great talent in both organizations by sometime in early 2009.” A spokeswoman said plans will not be final for the next stage of editorial consolidation until January.
— Stephanie D. Smith
GAME OVER: The T supplement franchise may be boosting the bottom line at The New York Times, but it appears sports aren’t quite as lucrative as fashion, design or travel. The Times said Monday it would no longer publish Play, its glossy quarterly sports magazine, after the November issue. A spokeswoman confirmed the move, but said no staff reductions would take place as a result, since most of the staffers were freelancers. Play launched in February 2006.
FEWER ADS TO WATCH: The outlook for TV advertising in 2009 isn’t much better than for print, as the Television Bureau of Advertising forecasts total spot ad revenues to decline by between 7 and 11 percent next year compared with this year’s revenues. The figures have been updated by the association since its original advertising outlook in September. The group also forecast that national spot advertising will fall by between 11.5 to 15.5 percent next year, compared with the previous forecast of a 7 to 10 percent decline. The automotive, political, retail, telecom and financial sectors will be key for next year.
— Amy Wicks
DE BEERS DOUBLES UP: De Beers has more than doubled its U.S. consumer marketing budget for the Christmas period in response to the credit crunch. David Lamb, chief strategic officer of Forevermark, the recently-launched De Beers diamond brand, told WWD the company made the decision based on new research showing diamond jewelry will be the number-one gift for the holidays in 2008, and that the majority of women prefer to receive one gift with enduring value, rather than several smaller ones. The campaign will break during Thanksgiving weekend with an “emotional” TV ad, Lamb said, and 128 full-page ads in national and local newspapers such as The New York Times, and magazines including Forbes, Business Week, Fortune and Time. The print ads will feature shots of the company’s leading products, such as diamond studs, and solitaire and three-stone rings, and will be more conversational and philosophical than in the past. Lamb said he believes diamond consumption will continue to thrive as consumers take stock of their priorities — and their belongings. “I don’t think anyone has ever sent diamonds off to Manhattan Mini-Storage,” he said.
— Samantha Conti