Vanity Fair is using an old publishing maneuver to boost its advertising revenue.
The magazine has revamped its newsstand calendar to include two stand-alone issues not affiliated with a specific month. According to VF chief revenue officer and publisher Chris Mitchell, the magazine now publishes a “holiday” issue, which goes on sale on Nov. 23, and a “Hollywood” issue, which hits newsstands on Feb. 3.
“Everyone bemoans the dreaded ‘J’ months,” Mitchell told WWD, referring to January, June and July, which are typically a monthly magazine’s worst in terms of ad pages sales.
Mitchell said the “tweaked” publishing schedule does not change Vanity Fair’s 12-month frequency, but is designed to enhance the magazine’s ad grab. Additionally, themed issues also cost more — $7.99 at retail — $2 more than the magazine normally costs on the newsstand.
Although some issues following the themed editions will have a shorter shelf life on the newsstand — about 21 to 25 days — the publisher said there hasn’t been a noticeable impact on sales. In terms of advertising, he noted that the larger issues have helped attract more luxury ad pages, as the Holiday issue hits before Christmas, and the Hollywood issue goes on sale before the fashion collections season.
Mitchell noted that he came up with the themed concept last year in its January issue featuring Bradley Cooper, which was branded as its “holiday special.” From that experience, he decided to put the issue up for sale a littler earlier than usual — on Nov. 26 versus Dec. 3. The holiday issue, which takes the place of VF’s January issue, gives advertisers the entire month of December, he said, noting that the issue will include a gift guide.
VF is poised to release its stand-alone Hollywood issue. Hitting stands this week, the issue features a tri-fold cover shot by Annie Leibovitz. It showcases different generations of leading female actresses, including Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis, Jane Fonda, Alicia Vikander, Charlotte Rampling and Saoirse Ronan, among others.
VF will unveil its Hollywood issue on a special channel on Snapchat Discover today — a first for the glossy. The channel, which will be live for 36 hours, will feature a spotlight and video on Lily-Rose Depp, a short film on the cover stars, and the best-of Oscar party photo booth, among others.
Mitchell noted that VF is up 87 pages for the first quarter.
In targeted timing and content with shorter lead times, Mitchell noted, “What we’re doing with print is more aligned with how you sell digital,” adding that he’s been “vocal” in extending this model to other magazines at Condé Nast.