CELEBRATING COSMO: Magazines have slashed their budgets over the last few years — but there are exceptions. Like Cosmopolitan. The magazine just held its biennial conference in Madrid, with editors and publishers from 64 editions receiving an all-expenses paid trip to talk strategy and brand building. They stayed at the Westin Palace, ranked one of the world’s best hotels by Condé Nast Traveler. The least expensive room is about $350 a night. You do the math.

Hearst has a reputation for being a more, shall we say, frugal publishing company, so this type of trip stands out. But Cosmo is the company’s cash cow and holds the number-one position in its portfolio. One of the reasons for this, according to a spokeswoman, is that the brand has a dominant hold on beauty advertising around the world. When pressed for numbers, she said 50 percent of its run-of-book advertising across editions is beauty, and total paging (not including beauty supplements) is 18,000. L’Oréal and P&G are the magazine’s biggest beauty advertisers globally.

This story first appeared in the May 7, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The trip wasn’t strategy sessions 24-7, though. One evening, editors took part in a game-show panel titled “Man Manual: What Goes Through Men’s Minds,” moderated by Spanish model and TV presenter Laura Hayden, who interviewed a group of Spanish celebrities about what makes men tick. U.S. Cosmo editor in chief Kate White described it as “The View” for men. It was followed by a “Fun, Fabulous Cosmic Fiesta” featuring flamenco dancers, tapas and a bazaar of Spanish luxury goods that attendees could shop from. “These conferences are sexy and exciting and fun,” said White, who may be the first person to use these words to describe a work event. Then again, this was also a very different type of conference.

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