COLES’ POWER GRAB: Joanna Coles has a bigger role at Hearst Magazines. The editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine has been named editorial director, and given responsibility for Seventeen magazine as well. Current editor in chief Ann Shoket, who has held the top job for seven years, has stepped down. Shoket will remain a consultant for a period of time, as she pursues other media jobs. An editor in chief of Seventeen will be named within the next four weeks.
This story first appeared in the September 30, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Ann started talking to me about what her plans were for the future over the summer,” said David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines. “I started thinking about it, and asked what was the natural evolution for the [Seventeen] brand? The brand can travel in so many places.”
According to Carey, the Cosmo reader and the Seventeen reader overlap, as do the magazines’ advertisers. He said there is a 50 percent advertising overlap between the two magazines.
“I want Seventeen to be the playbook to go to college,” Coles told WWD. “I think it gets you up to going to college and at the end of your first year of college, you start subscribing to Cosmo.”
For her part, Coles hopes to turn up the volume a bit on the Seventeen brand, as she has with Cosmo. “I have all sorts of ideas for brand extensions and brand partnerships. This is clearly an audience that lives on its phone. They were born digital, so that’s a big part of it, and so is video,” Coles said. “We’ve had tremendous success with the Awesomeness TV girls who have become their own brands. I see this entrepreneurial spirit among these girls. They are starting their own businesses financed by Kickstarter, they are crowdsourcing their homework almost at this point. This is a generation that thinks way beyond themselves.”
Already in planning mode, Coles has teamed up with Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg at Cosmo to launch Cosmo Careers. “If you look at what’s happened at Cosmo since she’s taken over, it’s transformational,” Sandberg said. “She’s going to women and asking who do you want to be professionally, not just what you want to look like or how do you want to behave with men. People think serious doesn’t sell and they are wrong.”
Sandberg hinted she’d be open to partner with Coles on Seventeen, in the moments before she spoke on an Advertising Week panel with the Cosmo editor Monday morning.
In order to bring some of that Cosmo charm to Seventeen, Coles is taking her publisher, senior vice president and publishing director Donna Kalajian Lagani to Seventeen. Lagani will oversee both titles. Former Seventeen publisher Jayne Jamison, who also published Redbook, has been moved to O, The Oprah Magazine, where she will become senior vice president and publisher.
Michael Clinton, president of publishing and marketing, rolled out a host of other restructuring moves on the business side Monday.
Sue Katzen, associate publisher of Cosmo, will become publisher of Redbook, while Jill Seelig, former O publisher, takes a new role as senior vice president of corporate development and publishing.
Carey assured that Seventeen would get a broader investment in its editorial, digital and other brand-expanding endeavors. That’s good because Coles is looking to invest more in the brand — and that includes the print edition, which has maintained a circulation of 2 million over the past five years. Where the magazine has faltered has been in single-copy sales, which fell by nearly 65,000 to 221,035 in 2013.
Ad pages in September slid 9 percent to 103. It follows months of ad-page declines in a sector — teen — that is somewhat squeezed, as most younger readers are consuming content online rather than in print. Competitors like Condé Nast’s Teen Vogue have experienced similar declines, triggering speculation that it may become a digital-only magazine.
When asked if that could happen at Seventeen, Coles said: “Of course we’ll keep the print edition. The print edition is the playbook and it has a 2 million circulation. A lot of moms and a lot of grandmothers take up a subscription for their daughters or granddaughters.”