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- Magazine Execs Mull the Future of Industry
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ANOTHER DEPARTURE FROM NEWS CORP.: The New York Post’s Liz Smith will no longer have a column running in the daily paper by the end of the week. The move marks the end of Smith’s 33-year presence in New York newspapers, which began in 1976 when her column first appeared in the New York Daily News. Smith’s last column — “if they print it!” she told WWD — will be Thursday.
She had already been marginalized at the Post last year, when her column was reduced to three days a week from six. But in January, when her contract was approaching its expiration date, Smith said she wrote a letter to Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of New York Post parent company News Corp., saying she hoped to renew. Instead, Post editor in chief Col Allen sent Smith a letter on Feb. 9 explaining, “Like so many other newspapers around the nation, we are buffeted by unprecedented economic gales,” and that he would not renew her “legendary column.”
This story first appeared in the February 25, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I hope now that they don’t have to pay my salary anymore, that the Post will go right into the black,” Smith said. The New York Times, which broke the news online, reported her salary was $125,000.
The columnist will now post her daily column on her Web site, Wowowow.com, which she founded in 2008 along with writers and journalists including Joni Evans, Lesley Stahl, Peggy Noonan and Joan Juliet Buck. “I hope to make it a lot more vital,” Smith said of the column, with hourly updates when appropriate. Smith’s column will also appear five times a week in syndication for national newspapers, and she pens a twice weekly column for Variety. Moreover, she was recently named a contributing editor at Parade Magazine, which is carried on Sundays in more than 470 newspapers — including the New York Post. — Stephanie D. Smith
LANE CRAWFORD’S BLOGGER: Hong Kong-based retailer Lane Crawford is shifting away from last season’s black-and-white “Transitions” campaign and entering the world of the blogosphere. The department store tapped JakandJil.com’s creator Tommy Ton to shoot its spring advertising campaign. The reportage-style images are set against the backdrop of fashion weeks in Paris, Milan, New York and London, and aim to capture the events’ frenzy and excitement. With themes such as “Shoe Gazing” and “Style Spotlight,” the ads feature short fashion blog entries by Ton, who will also serve as guest blogger for a month on Lane Crawford’s relaunched Web site. The cyber-style campaign is designed to drive traffic to the site, where regularly updated fashion feature stories and new products will be showcased. The ads will debut in Hong Kong’s two biggest dailies, Apple Daily and The South China Morning Post, on March 8. Lane Crawford declined to say how much the company is spending on advertising this season, but after last year’s splashy star-laden “Transitions” campaign, which ran in American Vogue and was featured on billboards and in print ads throughout Hong Kong, it’s evident the ad budget has been trimmed. — Constance Haisma-Kwok
NOT IN THE CARDS: After a three-year run, Hallmark Magazine is closing. Thirty employees from the New York and Kansas City offices will be let go, and the magazine’s Web site will also close. The February-March issue, its last, was up 53 percent in paging and 37 percent in revenue, compared with the same 2008 issue. The final issue also represented a rate base increase to 800,000, a 100 percent increase since the title’s launch in fall 2006. Despite the good numbers, chief executive Donald J. Hall Jr. said the company considered the current business and trends facing the magazine industry. “Despite favorable consumer acceptance of the publication, we cannot justify continued investment in the magazine at a time when we must focus our efforts and resources only on those projects that will lead to long-term profitable revenue growth for the company,” he said. — Amy Wicks
KRISPY GLEAMS: Alain Nemarq, the chief executive of Place Vendôme jeweler Mauboussin, is known for his unconventional approach to marketing: namely billboards across the Paris subway system featuring the brand’s baubles with their price tags. But Nemarq’s latest buzz-building endeavor takes the biscuit — or make that the doughnut. This Saturday, Mauboussin will serve up trays of doughnuts in 13 of its stores across France, some stuffed with lucky charms that can be claimed for a crisp $100 bill. The event was unveiled in a double-page center spread in the French Sunday paper, Le Journal du Dimanche, set against the backdrop of a billowing American flag and headed with the Barack Obama campaign catchphrase: ‘Yes We Can!’ “It’s merely a message of hope and optimism; the idea is that — even during a crisis — we can have fun,” said Nemarq, who confirmed he has plenty more oddball initiatives up his sleeve. They seem to work. Since initiating his campaigns in 2004, sales for the brand have doubled at average exchange for the period, Nemarq confirmed, representing 31 million euros in 2008, or $45 million. “The only part of the market that is successful is the accessible part,” he said, adding that in January and February Mauboussin’s business grew by 20 percent. Some 80-85 percent of business is generated by accessible jewelry, priced below 2,000 euros, he said, or around $2,500 at current exchange. Of course, while Maubossin is running doughnut ads in France, in the U.S., it’s taking a different tack: a double-page ad in The New York Post on Tuesday invited shoppers in to celebrate Mardi Gras with a beignet — and offered discounts of 10 to 25 percent, with 5 percent of the proceeds going to the New Orleans Preservation Resource Center. — Katya Foreman