If you happen to talk business with a Condé Nast executive anytime soon, chances are good they might be reading from a script.
Pamela Drucker Mann, Condé’s chief revenue and marketing officer, made sure that vice presidents and executives on the business side all know exactly what to say when brands and advertisers inevitably start asking about the implications of the consolidation of the American and British versions of Condé Nast Traveller, announced Wednesday. While Condé is working hard to position the move as a new “partnership” between the English version of the magazine, the reality is a handful of layoffs, the loss of a longtime editor, a lot of content-sharing and shifting a bulk of New York operations for the title to London, but that’s not the way Condé wants it talked about.
According to an internal e-mail obtained by WWD, business leaders are to say that layoffs associated with the making of two editions into one are “very minimal” while keeping the information that roughly five staffers are set to be cut to themselves. They’re also supposed to say “we’re not going to get into the specifics of who/where” in relation to the cuts.
As for what’s to become of Pilar Guzman, who has been editor in chief of U.S. Traveller since 2015, the answer for all is to be: “She’ll have more to share about her next opportunity shortly.” In other words, her job is being taken over by Melinda Stevens, editor of the U.K. Traveller. But don’t expect a straight answer on that either. Executives are supposed to explain that Guzman will be with the magazine “through the transition in January” and will “help Melinda through the integration of the two teams.”
For anyone wondering what the content will be like between two magazines that are to start operating more as one, but still with separate issues and at different frequencies (eight in the U.S. and 10 in the U.K), don’t expect a great deal of clarity when you call up Condé and ask whether the content will be the same.
The business leads have been instructed to answer that question with: “No, the trans-Atlantic web site will have one look and feel with content that is culturally versatile across both countries with personalized content experiences based on the location of the user.” Culturally versatile sure sounds like corporate doublespeak for “stuff everyone should like.”
As for print, there is no hypothetical question about that content being the same, which in a list of about 20 questions, seems less of an oversight than wishful thinking. But rest assured, if you’re an advertiser that can’t imagine running your business without an ad in Traveller, your Condé business contact will have the pleasure of informing you that “our commercial teams will facilitate advertising buys across both markets.”
But if you dare to ask the uncomfortable questions, like “Will there be more combined titles?,” expect vagaries that leave that possibility open, like “There are no other plans to combine titles, for now. But we do have a number of other projects in the works with announcements to come.”
Questioning along this line seems to be expected, as Drucker Mann even offered up a second hypothetical version. “Q: Can we expect Condé Nast and Condé Nast International to do something similar across other titles in your portfolio? A: This announcement is the first title collaboration between the two divisions of the company and kicks off several new initiatives between Condé Nast and Condé Nast International leveraging our global footprint.”
There’s even a scripted reply (the longest of the bunch) for anyone who asks if the consolidation of the English Traveller is ”another cost-saving exercise,” but it’s less of an answer than another vague attempt to quell concerns.
“The company is bringing together the best of what each team does to create a superior product,” read the talking points. “Additionally, Bob [Sauerberg, chief executive officer] mentioned to the Condé Nast U.S. team that he and Jonathan [Newhouse, head of Condé Nast International] are working more closely together on a number of projects between the two companies that can leverage our global footprint and produce better results for both consumers and advertisers.”
Condé executives are also supposed to refer to the consolidation of the two Traveller brands as “an opportunity” and/or “a great opportunity to complement the existing strengths of each book” while using the U.S. web site to grow the business. Good luck parsing any actual information out of that.
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