FORD TO CARRY CARGO: The final link in a chain of publisher changes snapped into place Tuesday when Condé Nast named Lance Ford as the new vice president and publisher of Cargo. Ford spent 13 years with the company — at Gourmet, The New Yorker and Bon Appétit — before shepherding the launches of Maxim, Stuff, Blender and The Week at Dennis Publishing. He also was briefly the president of advertising and publishing at American Media Inc., a job he stepped down from in July after only three months. “I’ve come home to roost after being away for nine years,” he said in an interview.
Ford rejoins Condé Nast on Sept. 12, the same day Cargo’s founding publisher, Alan Katz, officially moves over to be vice president and publisher of Vanity Fair, and Lou Cona slides from Vanity Fair to the same job at The New Yorker, replacing David Carey, who will be heading up the company’s new business group. Those appointments were announced last week.
What Ford will find when he arrives at Cargo is, by many accounts, a magazine that has had some trouble taking hold in a crowded marketplace. While sister shopping title Lucky connected fairly quickly with its audience, Cargo is still said to be limping along after almost a year-and-a-half on newsstands. A Condé Nast spokeswoman said the company is not releasing full numbers for the magazine until the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ concurrent audits for 2004 and 2005 are completed next month, but she said that estimates have Cargo’s newsstand sales averaging somewhere above 60,000. She added the magazine is delivering above its rate base of 350,000, and that publisher’s best estimates have the September issue with Andy Roddick on the cover tracking at 89,000 copies on newsstands, with two weeks left to sell.
That’s still down, though, from the newsstand average of 110,000 for the magazine’s first few issues, which the company reported in a 2004 postal statement. The magazine’s single-copy sell-through is said to be hovering at just over 20 percent, well below the industry average of 33 percent.
According to insiders at Condé Nast, Cargo’s lackluster performance has spurred executives to become more involved in editorial decision-making in recent months. One sign of their ongoing tweaks is the magazine’s evolving cover formula. When it made its debut, Cargo showed real guys on the cover, before shifting to male models. This summer, editor in chief Ariel Foxman intimated to WWD that, going forward, the magazine’s covers would feature only notable personalities, starting with Roddick. The October cover, however, will have a split run. One cover will show the actor Patrick Dempsey. The other will be an all-text cover trumpeting the magazine’s “Hot List.” The kicker? Dempsey won’t be going to newsstands. He’s on the issue headed to subscribers.
The spokeswoman explained, “We are building an annual franchise with the ‘Hot List.’ The November cover will have a celebrity.”
Ford, who presumably learned a thing or two about what drives men to newsstands during his time at Dennis, said, “Launches are always difficult. There are tweaks, you grow and evolve and you get it right. One of the things I’m sure about with Condé is they will get it right.”
Condé Nast, Cargo, Gourmet, The New Yorker, Bon Appétit, Vanity Fair, Lucky and Domino are, like WWD, part of Advance Publications Inc.
— Sara James and Jeff Bercovici
MR. SEVENTEEN: Seventeen has finally filled the beauty editor job that almost went to beauty blogger Nadine Haobsh back in mid-July. After The New York Post revealed Haobsh was the blogger behind jolienyc.blogspot.com, Seventeen rescinded its offer. Haobsh already had given notice at Ladies’ Home Journal, so she was suddenly without a job.
So who will fill the post at Seventeen? “It’s a boy,” said a spokeswoman for the magazine, “I feel like we’re having a baby.” The bundle of joy she was referring to is Desi Gallegos, associate beauty editor at Teen People, who will be the new beauty editor at Seventeen.
And how is Haobsh faring these days? She just passed the 200,000 hit mark on her blog, which is back up and running after a brief dark period. She also has a promotional Web site at nadinehaobsh.com, where she posted this message: “To all the people who have sent me e-mails of support, care baskets and questions about beauty: Thank you so much! I’ve learned that when you speak candidly, there’s a receptive audience and an opportunity to touch people as a credible source. I’m looking forward to using my blog as a platform to provide honest and straightforward beauty advice to women of all ages. Thanks for visiting and stay beautiful!”
“MADDOX” SPEAKS: One blogger who hasn’t yet been outed is the anonymous author of automaddox.blogspot.com, the fictional blog of Angelina Jolie‘s adopted son, Maddox.
In an e-mail to WWD, the blogger would reveal only that he lives in Los Angeles and works in television. “I recently had a child of my own,” he explained, “and looking at him made me realize there is so much at stake when it comes to parenting. I am now responsible for this little human! And the pressure was overwhelming at first. I was looking through one of the rags and I came across Maddox, and said to myself, ‘here’s a boy that will never have to worry about 99 percent of what everyone else worries about’ … What fun it would be to see the world through his eyes, and what fun it would be to share it with others.”
Traffic has been spiking at AutoMaddox since the Hollywood gossip Web site defamer.com linked to the blog on Aug. 17. WWD mentioned the blog five days later, the current issue of People magazine features excerpts from the site and a copycat blogger has even started a fictional site for “Princess Zahara,” Maddox’s adopted sister.
As of Tuesday, “Maddox” had not received any requests to stop blogging as Jolie’s adopted son. “I have not heard from Angelina’s camp,” he said, “and I’m sure I won’t. It’s really not that big of a deal.”
COOKIE TREATS: A word of warning to pedestrians who frequent Madison Avenue in the mornings: Cookie is gearing up for its November launch by hosting a stroller shopping event on the avenue next month. The magazine and Divalysscious Moms are teaming up for “Moms on Madison,” a shopping preview offering discounts, children’s entertainment and giveaways on Sept. 10 at 9-11 a.m. Participating retailers include A Pea in the Pod, Bonpoint, Caron, Catimini, Clarins, Cozy’s Cuts for Kids, David Yurman, Gymboree, Jacadi, Liz Lange Maternity, Oilily, Petit Bateau, Shanghai Tang and Vilebrequin. Watch your shins. Like WWD, Cookie is owned by Fairchild Publications.