SURPRISE, SURPRISE: As rumors swirl about the impending demise of Gruner + Jahr U.S.A. chief executive officer Dan Brewster, the Audit Bureau of Circulations released yet another audit of YM, showing that the title dramatically overstated its newsstand sales during 2002. For the first six months of the year, Gruner + Jahr reported YM’s newsstand sales were 435,000. But the audit shows that the title only sold 288,000 copies on average for the period, an inflation of 35 percent.
It’s old news to YM’s advertisers, which already have been issued make-goods by G+J, a company spokeswoman said. In an apparent attempt to rebuild trust (a far more valuable commodity), G+J has commissioned an additional set of audits by the ABC to make them, in effect, a biannual, instead of annual, event.
But the problem goes beyond that. Because of the inflation, the magazine’s advertisers were under the impression in 2002 that it was the number two teen book on the newsstand, running closely behind Teen People’s 500,000 circulation and higher than Seventeen’s 370,000 and Cosmogirl’s 400,000. The truth was that among the four largest teen titles, YM was the lowest seller on the newsstand that year and in the first half of 2003.
Now, G+J has to be able to prove not only that it is capable of accurately reporting its numbers, but also that its teen title is actually connecting with readers. And the numbers are not on G+J’s side. For the last several months, YM’s ad pages have been in free fall and ABC audits have exposed that the company also has filed bogus reports for Rosie during 2002 and its predecessor, McCall’s, in 2000. — Jacob Bernstein and Greg Lindsay
BONNIE DEAREST: Finally, someone else is writing about Bonnie Fuller. Vanity Fair contributor Judith Newman is close to wrapping up her profile of Fuller slated to run in the magazine’s March issue, or so she announced online last week in “I Survived Bonnie,” a Yahoo Group devoted to the subject of its members’ mutual loathing of the magazine editor.
Newman’s last meta-media story for the magazine angered Rosie O’Donnell to the point where she called Newman names from the witness stand during her trial versus Gruner + Jahr. Newman appears to be hunting high and low for nice things to say about Fuller, however.
“I’m just finishing up a story on Bonnie Fuller for a national magazine,” Newman wrote, “and any of you who’d like to write me privately, with positive stories as well as, um, less positive, (though I realize a group called “I Survived Bonnie’ is not a fount of goodwill!)…well, I’d be delighted and grateful. It’s very important to me that I give a full and accurate picture; I’m sure even those of you who were exasperated also learned from her, etc.?”
She’ll probably need to keep looking. One of the recent public posts described Fuller as “a genius. An evil genius. She’s a giant id.” — G.L.
FREE AT LAST: Since parting ways not so amicably with Time Inc. in 2002, Wallpaper founder Tyler Brûlé has been barred from launching a sequel. A non-compete clause was inserted in his deal to buy back the media consultancy Wink from the publisher, and since then, he’s been cooking up ad campaigns, custom publications and even his own slickly produced trend forecast. But all that could change.
In New York Wednesday to attend the launch of his own textiles line (“Winkraft,” created in partnership with Bernhardt Design), Brûlé confirmed that his non-compete clause expires this month. He has said in past interviews that he’d love to start a blend of Wallpaper and The Economist (“I think my heart is in news,” he once told Canada’s National Post). — G.L.