Yahoo wants a bigger piece of the fashion and beauty pie.
This story first appeared in the April 10, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Web giant on Wednesday signed Bobbi Brown as editor in chief of its online beauty magazine, marking another high-profile hire in its push to create digital magazines. It is understood more appointments in the sector will be made later this week, according to sources, who declined to provide details.
One name being mooted as a possible recruit is Elle creative director Joe Zee, who would presumably help oversee Yahoo’s fashion channels. Zee did not return requests for comment, and a Yahoo Inc. spokeswoman declined comment.
The appointments would be the latest in a string of similar hires over the last few weeks. Last month, the site hired former Page Six editor Paula Froelich to oversee its travel section and ex-Vulture editorial director Josh Wolk to head up the entertainment vertical. Sarah McColl, former managing editor of Yahoo Food, was promoted to editor in chief of Yahoo Food. Other big names who have recently joined the company include New York Times alums David Pogue, who now heads up Yahoo Tech, and Matt Bai, who serves as a national political columnist for Yahoo News. Yahoo also added Katie Couric as global anchor earlier this year.
The moves are all part of the strategy of Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s president, director and chief executive officer, to get the company back on the growth track and close the gap with the likes of Google and Facebook. Mayer has long been fascinated with the fashion space, both professionally and personally, and last year stirred controversy when she appeared in a photo shoot in Vogue at a difficult time when the company was struggling.
“Our digital magazines are aligned with verticals and our two biggest verticals are Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Finance,” Mayer said during the company’s fourth-quarter call on Jan. 28. “In November, we launched a new Yahoo Finance, our industry-leading business and financial news product.…We also launched two new digital magazines, Yahoo Food and Yahoo Tech. These new digital magazines combine the things we love about magazines, their elegance and editorial excellence, with the vast resources of the Internet, original and curated content, photos and videos to create an immersive beautiful experience. With Yahoo Food, we’re bringing together recipes, food trends and new techniques through bite-size content, engaging videos and stunning photos curated from Flickr and across the Web. Yahoo! Food is being led by an all-star editorial team assembled from leading culinary publications including Bon Appétit, Martha Stewart Living and Gourmet.
“Although it is still early, engagement numbers speak to the reach and scale of the Yahoo network,” added Mayer. “For example, if Yahoo Food and Tech were print magazines, together they would be the third-largest U.S. print magazine in circulation.”
As for Brown, who will remain chief creative officer of the cosmetics brand which bears her name, she expects her page to be launched in early June. It is expected to include videos, advice and product recommendations — but Brown is clear on one thing. “This is not going to be the Bobbi Brown Cosmetics channel,” she said. “I am approaching this as a journalist. I’ve appeared on ‘Good Morning America’ and the ‘Today’ show for the last 15 years and I’ve never taken the opportunity to just push my own brand. This will be a brand-agnostic site.”
Brown also sees the new gig as an extension of her long-stated goal to empower and inspire other women. “Beauty isn’t about looking perfect; it’s about celebrating your individuality,” she emphasized, noting that this belief is both at the core of her brand and the central message of all of the beauty books she’s written. “I already create a lot of content with social media, but my interest in beauty isn’t just about cosmetics. That’s what excited me about this opportunity. Beauty for me is lifestyle, empowerment, what you eat — so many things.”
Brown noted that the frequency of her posts is one piece which is still being worked out, but that she’s excited to use the media center she built near her Montclair, N.J., home two years ago a little more often. “They’ve given me free reign to create a modern platform, and I’m very excited about teaching women and learning new things myself. Yahoo has more than 800 million users, and it’s a great opportunity to get smart, approachable news out to a wide variety of women.”
Maureen Case, global president of Bobbi Brown and Jo Malone, called the collaboration “a win-win from a brand-awareness standpoint. We are now in 60 markets globally with the brand, and the ability for people to see Bobbi in the Yahoo context and then link back to us is a huge opportunity,” said Case.