VOGUE HOME: Now that Mama Vogue, Teen Vogue and Men’s Vogue are available in the U.S., all the Vogue family needs is a place to call home. And that’s exactly what it’ll get if Vogue Living materializes. The big question seems to be not whether a special outsert or newsstand issue will happen, but whether it will arrive this year or next.
Vogue publisher Tom Florio told WWD in October that a shelter spin-off was “something we’d like to do this year,” meaning calendar year 2006. Last week, the official word from a Vogue spokeswoman was, “It’s still an active topic for discussion.”
However, what may end up stalling a special issue of Vogue Living until 2007 is the very thing that initially gave the idea momentum — namely, the advertising community’s embrace of Men’s Vogue. With Condé Nast now devoting resources to that launch — as well as to new parenting title Cookie and the forthcoming business magazine — it appears as if the company may have enough to juggle this year.
Undoubtedly a time line for the project was among the topics of discussion when Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour had lunch with Condé Nast chief executive officer Charles Townsend last Thursday in the 4 Times Square cafeteria.
Taking the Vogue brand into the shelter category has long been a pet project for Wintour, who edited House & Garden as HG in the late Eighties. She evidently created a working prototype for Vogue Living roughly two years ago, before Condé Nast’s shelter shopping title Domino was given the green light.
There are three global precedents for a Vogue shelter spin-off: Australian Vogue Living has been around since 1967; Brazilian Casa Vogue was started in 1975, and Italian Vogue has an occasional Casa Vogue outsert polybagged with its regular issue. The U.S. Vogue flagship has always featured photo portfolios of interiors, including Madonna‘s English manor, Jerry Seinfeld‘s Hamptons compound, the New York town house of artists Hugo Guinness and Elliott Puckette and the Hollywood Hills home of Sofia Coppola. Vogue’s Index section has also been showing more objects for the home since Meredith Melling Burke began editing it.
If and when Vogue Living moves into the shelter category in the U.S., one of its neighbors may not be unfurling a welcome mat. Insiders at Condé Nast believe Vogue Living’s fate will be intertwined with House & Garden’s because of some overlap in audience and advertising clients. Also, historically, H&G hasn’t fared well when Condé Nast has added to its shelter portfolio. The company folded HG in 1993, shortly after acquiring Architectural Digest, only to relaunch the title in 1996 with the House & Garden name restored.
“It’s a different climate [today],” a Condé Nast spokeswoman said, dismissing the comparison. Of Vogue Living, she added, “They are very different magazines. House & Garden does not necessarily venture into that equation.”
If a Vogue Living test does get put off until 2007, H&G publisher Joe Lagani will have that much more elbow room to continue his turnaround. After last year, which saw H&G’s ad pages drop 11.7 percent to 733.4 pages and its advertising revenue fall 4.8 percent, to $68,636,137, according to Publishers Information Bureau, Lagani is celebrating double-digit percentage gains for January (up 19.6 percent to 39.8 pages), February (up nearly 29 percent to 42.3 pages) and March (up 17.7 percent to 73.6 pages). April, he said, also is looking up. “Basically 2005 for us was a rebuilding year. I spent that time getting great people and developing good strategies to sell what I think is a great product,” he said.
Said the company spokeswoman: “There has definitely been significant movement at House & Garden in the first quarter. Pages are up. We look forward to that continuing throughout the year.”
Lagani declined to comment about Vogue Living, but, discussing the shelter sector as a whole, he said, “Frankly I’d rather be in a category that more and more people are entering into. It’s when they’re dropping out that it’s a bad sign.”
— Sara James
TIME KEEPS ON PINK SLIPPING: Time Inc. laid off another 66 people on Monday. It was the company’s second round of cuts in as many months. Titles affected include Time, Money, Fortune and Real Simple. Of the 66 layoffs, 26 were non-Newspaper Guild editorial employees, across the company’s portfolio of titles and at all levels of job description. Though few of them were senior level staffers, at least one executive editor was let go. The other 40 released were business side staffers.
Additionally, a few dozen Guild editorial employees have been offered voluntary buyout packages; they have until Feb. 13 to decide whether or not to take them. Guild membership includes nonmanagement employees at Fortune, Time, Life, Money, People and Sports Illustrated. A company spokeswoman said the total number of Guild buyouts would not exceed 34. That means around 100 people in a company of more than 13,000 are losing their jobs in this round, which appears to be the extent of the companywide layoffs for the first quarter.
Fortune is said to be losing three editorial people, while at Money about five people will go.
In December, Time Inc. laid off 105 people.
As part of Monday’s shuffle, Andy Blau, president of Life and All You, was named group vice president of finance and operations for the newly formed Business & News Cluster, which includes Time, Fortune, Money, Business 2.0, FSB, TIME.com and CNNMoney.com. Karen Saltser returned to Real Simple as general manager, replacing Tina Pace.
AWARD SEASON: Magazine publishers tend to be ubercompetitive types, so the 30-plus of them gathered in Miami for Conde Nast’s annual publishers’ meeting are no doubt anxiously awaiting tonight’s announcement of this year’s “Publisher of the Year” winner, especially since there’s a generous prize at stake. (Past winners have received lavish vacations for themselves and their families.)
Insiders are expecting this year’s pick to carry more than the usual whiff of controversy. Among the two names mentioned most often are those of Teen Vogue’s Gina Sanders and Glamour’s Bill Wackermann. Sanders would appear to have an inside advantage: She’s married into the Newhouse family, which owns Condé Nast Publications, parent of WWD. But Teen Vogue’s strong 2005 ad performance should defray charges of nepotism should she win. The title overtook Seventeen as the category leader in ad pages, and its $77.7 million in reported ad revenue was more than double the previous year’s take.
Wackermann, meanwhile, has helped Glamour regain its place as one of the company’s biggest cash cows. The title was up 6.6 percent in pages and 14.6 percent in revenue, with $270.6 million, according to PIB. On a personal level, colleagues say Wackermann has eased up on the sales shenanigans that rankled his fellow publishers upon his arrival at Condé Nast. But don’t take that to mean he’s mellowed completely: An insider said Wackermann has been actively campaigning for the award.
— Jeff Bercovici