BIGGER AND BIGGER: Looks like most fashion magazine publishers can breathe a sigh of relief as 2007 comes to a close. Titles capped off a strong year as retail and apparel advertising helped lift revenues. But some magazines reported gains, thanks not only to their core books, but through corporate programs and special issues, as well. For example, Vogue retakes the top spot over its fashion competitors, besting In Style with a 2007 page count of 3,222 pages. However, Vogue had some corporate help— a handful of Condé Nast titles were boosted by either Fashion Rocks or new program Movies Rock. Meanwhile, Hearst Magazines spun off its own corporate efforts in 30 Days of Fashion and 30 Days of Beauty.
In Style publisher Lynette Harrison explained that the magazine’s 8.3 percent decline in ad pages, to 3,197, came in part because some special advertising units from retailers in 2006, such as Macy’s, Target, J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus, did not return this year. “We were expecting the fourth quarter to come back much more strongly, especially in the retail category,” she said, claiming retailers were not as optimistic about holiday spending this year as consumers became more concerned about the contracting housing market and increasing gas prices.
Nevertheless, core fashion titles managed to post strong gains despite consumer concerns. W posted an 11.7 percent gain in pages, to 2,216. Glamour, which saw a boost from not only corporate but also its own marketing programs, Reel Moments and Reel Music, increased pages 10.5 percent on top of a 7.5 percent gain last year. This year’s 2,089 ad pages is the most in Glamour’s history.
Elle posted a 6.2 percent gain this year to 2,510 pages. Harper’s Bazaar, which this year celebrated its 140th anniversary, grew pages 17 percent on top of a 9 percent gain last year, to 2,075 pages.
The big winners this year include More, which just lost its editor in chief, Peggy Northrop, to Reader’s Digest last week. Pages grew 19.1 percent on top of a 12.8 percent growth the year prior. Vanity Fair, which delivered several big issues, such as July’s Africa issue and May’s Green issue, grew pages 16.7 percent this year, to 2,262. Vice president and publisher Edward Menicheschi said having a publishing calendar of special issues signals to advertisers that “every issue is an event.” Additionally, most of the men’s category reported gains in paging. Maxim finished flat at 930 pages. Details, Men’s Journal and Men’s Health all reported double-digit increases over the year prior.
Finally, the teen category had a rough go in 2007 — the category has shrunk over the past five years and the three largest titles have posted flat or declining ad page growth. Teen Vogue continues to dominate the subset, reporting 1,234 pages, roughly equal to last year’s figure. Seventeen reported a 4 percent contraction, while Cosmogirl’s pages declined 6.8 percent. Here, WWD charts the biggest fashion books’ ad page performance for 2007. Numbers are a combination of publishers’ best estimates and data from Publishers Information Bureau. — Stephanie D. Smith
|2007 AD PAGE PERFORMANCE|
|2007 pages||2006 pages||% change 2007 vs. 2006||% change 2006 vs. 2005|
|Town & Country||1,739||1,777||-2.1||0.1|
|Martha Stewart Living||1,474||1,287||14.5||41.3|
|O, The Oprah Magazine||2,117||2,026||4.5||10.8|
|SOURCE: PUBLISHERS’ ESTIMATES PROVIDED TO AUDIT BUREAU OF CIRCULATIONS.
*ADDED ONE MORE ISSUE IN 2007.
**ADDED A HOLIDAY ISSUE.
***WENT TO EIGHT ISSUES IN 2007 FROM THREE IN 2006.
FAREWELL, ADIEU, AUF WIEDERSEHEN: The abruptness of magazine deaths can leave little time for goodbyes, but former House & Garden editor in chief Dominique Browning did get to say farewell a day after the title closed — on its Web site. (The site will officially die in about a month, to honor advertiser agreements, said a spokeswoman for Condé Nast, which also owns WWD.) “Our magazine showed beautiful rooms, perfect in their design, and what I wanted to talk about was how things aren’t always perfect in those rooms,” Browning wrote on the site. “We wish and hope that we can make homes in which we can let in only the good, and keep the bad out. Well, we couldn’t keep the bad out this time around.”
Using her editor’s letter to write narrative columns, she wrote, began as “almost a political statement: All my friends were so surprised that I was going to ‘a magazine like House & Garden…’ with all the implications that it was somehow beneath me, coming as I did from a journalistic background with Newsweek, Texas Monthly, Esquire.”
Just over a week after Browning wrote her farewell, about 60 readers had posted, at the magazine’s invitation, their own goodbyes. “In a very real sense, I am in mourning,” wrote one. Several addressed Browning personally: “My dear Dominique, can it be that we won’t be having our monthly chat any longer? I feel like a wise friend of exceptional value is leaving town.” Many indicated they were far older than the typical bulletin board poster.
There were harsh words for House & Garden’s competitors: Architectural Digest is, in the words of one poster, the “conceited big sister.” One seemed keenly attuned to prevailing publishing industry rumors: “I can’t help but surmise that this decision has been made to give room for Vogue Living, which strikes me as sad and untimely and terribly unfortunate.”
The poster who wrote, “You were eaten by your younger sibling Domino — which has nothing smart to read but lots of glossy catalogue-style photo layouts,” might be dismayed to find that clicking on the subscription tab on the House & Garden Web site bounces a user directly to Domino’s. The spokeswoman said several magazines, including Domino, would split the House & Garden subscription list, but said a final decision on which ones has not yet been made. — Irin Carmon
ANOTHER ONE ON THE WEB: T: The New York Times Style Magazine will soon introduce a more polished Web site for readers and, more importantly, luxury advertisers, called T Online. The Web site, which has been in the works for more than six months and has had several million dollars poured into it, very closely mirrors each issue of the supplement. And, like the online Times itself, T Online will offer the supplement’s entire contents for free (saving those design/fashion/beauty/travel-mad readers the $4 the Sunday Times costs). Horacio Silva, features director/online director, said this was rule number one with the site, noting he can be frustrated over the limited content that some Web sites provide.
Of course, the site will introduce a new blog, including the musings of one celebrity per week. Silva said a “big American designer” has signed on for the first week, although he declined to reveal the identity. A ticker will run at the bottom of the site, alerting readers to the most recent blog posts. “This will not be Chic Happens 2.0,” Silva said, comparing T Online to his old fashion column. Video coverage will be posted often, but Silva promises it will not look similar to the “bad TV” that is shown on some competitors’ sites.
Seth Rogin, vice president of advertising, said Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and the LVMH Group have signed on to advertise on the site. “This is not value-added, it’s paid,” he said. “We’ve created an environment that brands will feel at home advertising in.”
To kick off the site, Silva said it will have a presence at Art Basel Miami Beach. He intends to produce a daily newsletter, with a distribution of 10,000, that will include T Online blog postings. — Amy Wicks
ANYTHING TO BE PRETTY: That vanity knows no limits doesn’t usually surprise Allure, a magazine about beauty. In October, Allure published “Scared Straight,” examining a seemingly miraculous hair straightening solution from Brazil that has recently been enthusiastically adopted in the U.S. even as it has drawn regulatory scrutiny in Brazil. Allure’s laboratory tests of samples used in various salons found at least 10 times the amount of formaldehyde deemed safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel. The story also saw broad misinformation among many American stylists using it, and questioned the efficacy of safety measures taken to protect them from repeated exposure.
But perhaps surprisingly, the story hasn’t killed the trend, nor has it had much of a negative effect on the three salons highlighted in the story.
“It gave us a huge plug,” said Harley DiNardo, owner of Shampoo Avenue B in New York, who said he has hired two extra staffers to help out at the salon to meet sudden demand for the treatment. Many of his new customers have reported finding the salon in Allure, he said. “We didn’t know if the article was going to help us or hurt us,” he said. “I felt like [writer Mary A. Fischer] was going to do a positive thing but she basically tried to scare everyone. There are way worse smells and chemicals that you can put in your hair. It doesn’t damage your hair. There shouldn’t be any concern if the stylist knows what they’re doing. We’re very, very busy. The phone still rings off the hook.”
Business is so good, DiNardo said, that he and an employee are becoming the U.S. distributors of the solution, for which DiNardo traveled to Brazil. He plans to train other salons in its use.
The owner of the Argyle Salon & Spa in Los Angeles also said there had been a noticeable uptick in demand for the procedure, citing three walk-ins on Saturday alone, each mentioning the Allure story. (Mauricio Ribeiro, the Brazilian stylist at Argyle who pioneered the use of the solution, did not return calls.) The third salon mentioned in the magazine, Spalano Salon & Spa in Boca Raton, Fla., has stopped using the solution because of health concerns. “When we learned what it is, we stopped immediately,” said co-owner Emma Bezdek.
Allure editor in chief Linda Wells was flummoxed. “It’s so illogical that people would willfully pursue something that they know is dangerous,” she said. “But I do think that this is a part of the phenomenon of the power of vanity, and some women will just ignore the consequences.” She compared it to women afraid to quit smoking lest they gain weight. As to whether a jaded public had become skeptical of health risks reported in the media, she said, “We’re not talking about whether red wine raises or lowers cholesterol. We’re talking about formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.” — I.C.