ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Hearst Magazines is trying to get personal to slow the advertising downturn. Cathie Black, president, and Michael Clinton have personally hit the road on a 10-city tour, armed with a new, one-hour presentation that offers a more customized approach to advertising at Hearst titles. Meanwhile, the latest Media Industry Newsletter data showed double-digit ad declines. Clinton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer/publishing director, said brainstorming for the new plan began two years ago during a meeting in New Orleans, and the results are now showing up in magazines from brands such as Intel, Pantene and Dior Beauty.

Dior Beauty, for example, recently selected five Hearst titles to advertise in, including Marie Claire, Seventeen and O, The Oprah Magazine. All three are read by different audiences so the brand’s ad design, from text to images, varies in each. The variations can be dealt with in-house at Hearst since everything is processed digitally. “There have been iterations of this before, but it’s never been done to this extent before,” Clinton claimed, declining to discuss pricing.

This story first appeared in the May 19, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

He added that most business functions at Hearst will soon be done digitally, from billing to PDF tear sheets. Almost a quarter of all subscriptions are coming from Hearst Web sites now and that number spiked to 48 percent for the new Food Network Magazine, which he refers to as the “new launch model.” That new model also includes shorter production cycles (starting with Cosmopolitan and rolling out across the portfolio by yearend) to allow last-minute ads as companies buy closer to deadline; leaner staffs, and having just one associate publisher (so far, Veranda and the Food Network Magazine each only have one). “We have to adapt to a changing world,” said Clinton.

In 2007, Hearst produced 415 pages of advertising in-house, and in 2008, almost 600 pages, or 22 programs, were published. This year, 16 programs have been completed, with three more about to close at press time. — Amy Wicks