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FIGURING OUT LUXURY NOW: Having launched a luxury glossy in the middle of the biggest economic downturn since the Depression, The Wall Street Journal’s quarterly magazine is trying to roll with the punches while still attracting those choice advertisers. The September issue, appearing this weekend, has a package on “the changed state of luxury,” examining post-recession changes in diamonds, accessories, real estate and Champagne.
An unbylined essay, “Rough Luxe,” suggests fashion and luxury in general might take hints (or might be taking hints already?) from interior design, where mixing salvaged or worn items with modern or luxurious ones has long been de rigueur.
WSJ.’s new publisher, Sophie Raptis, only recently began and wasn’t involved in this issue, which has a total of 33 ad pages. (The title’s first two issues in September and December of 2008 had 51 and 45 pages, respectively).
The magazine increasingly looks like the second coming of Men’s Vogue (shuttered by Condé Nast last year). WSJ.’s deputy editor, Owen Phillips, came from Men’s Vogue before it closed, and the September issue has contributions from former Men’s Vogue staffers like Mark Rozzo, Taylor Antrim and Sara James, as well as The New Yorker’s Lauren Collins, who often wrote for Men’s Vogue.
— Irin Carmon
MULTIDIMENSIONAL: First it made a comeback at the movie theaters, then on television screens, and now 3-D is coming to an American magazine ad near you. For its December issue, InStyle is introducing 3-D advertising — no special glasses required. To further engage readers and increase the return on investment for advertisers, InStyle is creating 3-D ads that will leap from the page into a multidimensional experience on a viewer’s computer, with link-to-purchase opportunities and special offers. Readers who have an Internet connection and camera within their computers will be able to tear a given ad out of the title’s December issue and hold it up to the camera lens, upon which it will immediately come to life on the screen. A gift box will pop out of the screen, matching those seen in each brand’s respective stores.
A spokeswoman said this type of technology has been used in Europe but, to her knowledge, InStyle is the first women’s title in the U.S. to launch this type of program and with a click-to-buy feature. “This is innovative, on the edge and powerful,” said publisher Connie Anne Phillips, who joined InStyle in February. “What’s important is that we bring readers to the point of purchase.”
So far, 12 advertisers have signed on for the promotional section, from luxury fashion and jewelry companies to beauty and technology brands. Each company that advertises will be able to feature 10 items that can be purchased. Phillips declined to provide details on how much brands will pay to participate or reveal specific advertisers at this stage. The program, which is centered around the annual holiday gift guide, closes Oct. 9.
— Amy Wicks
GOOGLE NOW WANTS TO HELP: After spending years helping consumers find newspaper articles for free on the Web, Google now wants to work with the newspaper business, using a micropayment platform that could debut by next year. In an eight-page document submitted to the Newspaper Association of America (and can now be found online at the Nieman Journalism Lab), Google tells the NAA that through its experience with e-commerce products and consumer products, the search company can help build an e-commerce platform for publishers. According to the report: “Google believes that an open Web benefits all users and publishers. However, ‘open’ need not mean free. We believe that content on the Internet can thrive supported by multiple business models — including content available only via subscription. While we believe that advertising will likely remain the main source of revenue for most news content, a paid model can serve as an important source of additional revenue.” The report states that, in 2008, Google had revenues of $21.8 billion, primarily through advertising. Google’s proposal is just one of many plans out there for such platforms, with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and The New York Times working on similar technologies that would compete with Google’s.
NEW TEAM: Susan Casey, the newly installed editor at O, The Oprah Magazine, has recruited several staffers to make her own mark on the Hearst title. The media mogul-helmed magazine has seen circulation stagnate as of late, with newsstand sales declining 25 percent in the second half of 2008 and another 6 percent in the first half of 2009. Casey, who joined the magazine in June, has hired a new design director, books editor, health editor, and nabbed another Oprah friend, Dr. Mehmet Oz, as a contributing editor. To revitalize the visuals, Patrick Mitchell, founder of design studio PlutoMedia and former design director for Nylon and Fast Company, was hired as O’s design director. Mitchell’s work at the magazines earned him a National Magazine Award nomination in 2006, and winner of the 2000 award for Excellence in Design. He succeeds Robert Priest, formerly design director of Portfolio, who joined the magazine on an interim basis as a consultant.
Also, Casey poached Marie Claire executive editor Lucy Kaylin to join O as deputy editor. Marie Claire has yet to name a replacement for Kaylin’s position. Casey has also tapped Sara Nelson, formerly the editor in chief of Publishers’ Weekly until she was laid off in February, as books director; Prevention senior editor Tyler Graham as health and environment editor, and Jennifer Rainey Marquez as senior editor. Though a spokeswoman acknowledged that “a few staffers will be leaving the magazine as new team members come,” at least one is leaving by choice: features director Pat Towers will retire this month.
— Stephanie D. Smith