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BLACK MONDAY: Condé Nast Publications staffers are known to expect major changes after chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr. returns from vacation in January. Monday continued the tradition — before the lunchtime rush in 4 Times Square’s cafeteria, the buzz about the departures of group president Mitchell Fox, Lucky vice president and publisher Sandy Golinkin and Amy Churgin, senior vice president of Condé Nast Media Group, was spreading among top executives. Meanwhile, Glamour vice president and publisher Bill Wackermann, The New Yorker vice president and publisher Lou Cona and Tom Florio, publishing director of Vogue, Men’s Vogue and Vogue Living, were promoted to senior vice presidents; David Carey, Condé Nast group president and publishing director of Portfolio, had his responsibilities expanded to include Golf Digest Publications and Wired Media, and Drew Schutte, Wired Media vice president and publishing director, was tapped to succeed Cona at The New Yorker, while Gina Sanders, vice president and publisher of Teen Vogue, replaced Golinkin at Lucky.
While the shake-up surprised many for its scale, the moves come after speculation about sweeping changes in the publishing ranks, specifically naming Cona, Fox and Churgin, that had circulated in the hallways of 4 Times Square for months.
Fox, who oversaw the Golf Digest Publications; the Fairchild Fashion Group, parent of WWD; W magazine; Bon Appétit, and Condé Nast Bridal Media, was told of the decision Monday morning by Townsend. “My job here was a newly created position,” Fox said. “We all agreed that my abilities were underutilized in this job, but there was not another position that could take advantage of my abilities. As a result, we all mutually agreed that, rather than me bide my time here, I’d rather move on.”
Fox will be leaving the company in the next two weeks.
Insiders said Carey, a well-liked executive who was publisher of both House & Garden and The New Yorker, is being groomed for a larger role at the company. They also believe Wackermann, who was named senior vice president, publishing director and given oversight of the Bridal Media group, and Florio, who added Teen Vogue to his portfolio and senior vice president to his title, are being rewarded for their work in expanding their respective magazines’ ad pages and revenues.
At Lucky, Golinkin was said to be under pressure as ad page growth at the magazine had slowed. Through September, ad pages were up only 1 percent, to 1,289, and the September issue itself was off by 7 percent the same month that many magazines were trumpeting their best Septembers ever. The title rebounded toward the end of the year — ad pages for all of 2007 grew 3.2 percent, to 1,910, according to Media Industry Newsletter.
As for Cona, he was seen as a bad fit for The New Yorker, having come from Vanity Fair with more of an affinity for the fashion world than business and politics. He was appointed on Monday to senior vice president, Condé Nast Media Group, and will report to Media Group president Richard Beckman. Cona replaces Churgin, who worked under Beckman since March but was said to get along like “oil and water” with her boss, according to insiders.
The changes were considered by sources to streamline the company’s top executive structure — Monday’s reorganization leaves just one group publisher instead of two, and now the heads of Bon Appétit, the Fairchild Fashion Group and W magazine report directly to chief executive officer Chuck Townsend. Of the titles that report to senior vice presidents, the move creates clusters of magazines with natural synergies — Wired and Golf Digest have similar audiences to Portfolio, and Glamour’s young, female readers are likely to be thinking about marriage. “The structure is an organizational approach and a contemporary reflection of how we actually are doing business,” said Townsend.
Positions still to be filled are the publisher of Teen Vogue to replace Sanders, whom Florio is expected to appoint in the next few weeks. Also, wired.com is without a publisher with Schutte moving to The New Yorker, since Schutte had oversight of the Web site in his former role. — Stephanie D. Smith
GUESS RUNS TO BRYAN ADAMS: Canadian crooner Bryan Adams is upping the ante for multitasking celebrities by being the first bold-faced name to step behind the camera for Guess Inc.’s spring campaign. For the marketing initiative, breaking next month on billboards and in style bibles such as Vanity Fair, Interview, W, Vogue, Visionaire and Wallpaper, Adams captured Swedish beauty Line Gost vamping à la Sophia Loren in gingham microshorts, flouncy black dresses and snow white blouses tucked into skintight jeans. Collaborating with Guess chief executive officer Paul Marciano, who oversees the Los Angeles-based company’s marketing strategy, Adams re-created a rustic Italian village at Melody Ranch, located some 30 miles outside of the City of Angels. Guess even hired Loren’s hairstylist, Peter Savic, and makeup artist Joanne Gair to transform Gost into the Italian siren for the black-and-white photographs.
The 20 shots by Adams are only one aspect of Guess’ campaign, though. Yu Tsai, who worked with Guess on fall’s visuals, shot a separate series in color to run in publications including Best Life, Condé Nast Traveler, Esquire, Lucky, Men’s Vogue and Teen Vogue. Though a Guess spokesman declined to disclose the cost of the new campaign, Guess reported in financial filings that it spent $22.4 million last year on advertising.
For his contribution, Adams said: “I wanted a modern feel for the shoot, but also wanted the nostalgic feeling of some of the original Guess campaigns.”
Adams said he will donate his fees to his namesake foundation that funds projects supporting the elderly, victims of wars and natural disasters and other disadvantaged individuals. “I’m looking forward to working with [Guess and Marciano] again,” he said. — Khanh T.L. Tran
AQUASCUTUM HOTS UP: Aquascutum has swapped the stately home for a sea of sand dunes in its spring ads. Last season, Gisele Bündchen and Irish actor Jamie Dornan romped at Cliveden — the famous backdrop to the Profumo Affair — but this time around, they’re sweating together in what looks like the Sahara. “We wanted to develop the relationship between our power couple, but we also wanted something more adventurous, where you could feel the heat of the summer,” said Charlotte Thomas, global communications director for the brand. For the fourth season running, Mario Sorrenti has photographed the campaign, which was shot in a studio in Manhattan. In the campaign, Bündchen is wearing a hot pink silk jersey dress and a gold silk trench dress. The campaign will break in WWD’s London Preview in February, and in the March issue of magazines including W, V and British, French, Italian and Russian Vogue. — Samantha Conti