ALL STAR TEAM OF EDITORS AS SELLERS
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
Editors as sellers?
The idea isn’t that far-fetched. Church and state may be the modus operandi at some publications, but increasingly editors at fashion and lifestyle magazines are being forced by today’s tough business climate to dip their toes – or wade up to their thighs – in the chilly waters of the advertising world.
While no editor goes so far as to actually “ask for a page,” many accompany their publishers on sales calls, have lunch with advertisers, visit clients at their offices to describe their vision of the magazine, and generally make themselves accessible to their publisher’s needs.
Many of these practices have gone on for years. The difference is that publishers today are needier than ever and, thus, more demanding of their editors’ time. Most agree their editors are their best sales tools, but admit they walk a fine line in getting them involved in the advertising process. For their part, advertisers said they like when the editors get involved and appreciate if they show up at their events or even at their showrooms. And, increasingly, advertisers are expecting such appearances in exchange for their dollars.
But how do the editors feel about it? Publicly, they say the advertiser schmooz comes with the territory these days. The competition does it, so you’d better do it, too. And most say they’re inclined to make the best of the situation and use the publisher outing as a learning experience.
Privately, though, it’s often another matter. “I am besieged by the publishing side,” one editor in chief, who requested anonymity, said. “Every week they want to do three or four lunches and when I say I don’t have time, they say, ‘Anna’s doing it, Graydon’s doing it…And certainly Glenda’s doing it. We’ll lose the pages if we don’t.’ The fact is, most of these people we wouldn’t see unless they’re at some huge cocktail party.”
Another editor, also speaking without attribution, said, “Editors are getting way too hung up on whether the publishers are hitting their projections. We should be 100 percent focused on producing great magazines. Obviously we want our publications to succeed, but we’re forced to do two jobs now – sell and create – even though the selling part is supposed to be oh-so-subtle.”
Donald P. Ziccardi, president and chief executive officer of Ziccardi Partners Frierson Mee, Inc., an ad agency here, said: “There’s been a lot more contact with all the editors, not on sales calls, but in personal notes from the editors.” And it clearly doesn’t take much to earn such a note – Anna Wintour sent him one for simply being quoted as saying something nice about Vogue, while Glenda Bailey did the same after he was complimentary about Harper’s Bazaar.
On the record, editors claim they never get pressure from advertisers – or, in turn, apply it. “We never talk about rates,” said Art Cooper, editor in chief of GQ. “We don’t sell. No selling goes on when I’m there. It’s an editorial lunch. A lot of it is p.r.”
“I never feel pressure to run a story,” said Ingrid Sischy, editor in chief of Interview. “Each side assumes that the other side knows their job and will execute their job with full ethics.”
Whether Aristotle would be pleased or not, editors make time for going on sales calls when their publishers request it.
“I go when Gina [Sanders] asks me,” said Ruth Reichl, editor in chief of Gourmet, referring to her publisher. “I really enjoy it. Advertisers will give you nothing but the truth. It’s extremely useful. I’ll talk about the magazine which I’m really passionate about. I’ve never gotten any pressure from anyone.
“As a former restaurant critic, I’m really good at deflecting it,” said Reichl, who spends two to three weeks a year on the road with Sanders visiting ad agencies.
Kim Vernon, senior vice president of global advertising and marketing at Calvin Klein Inc., believes that the dynamics between editors and publishers are important.
“I think when the publisher and editor have a strong relationship, it absolutely matters in the success of the magazine.” She believes several of the new publishing couples will be successful, such as Tom Florio and Anna Wintour at Vogue, and Ron Galotti and Cooper at GQ. She also thinks Cindy Lewis and Glenda Bailey, publisher and editor in chief, respectively, at Harper’s Bazaar, will be strong.
Andrew Black, senior vice president, marketing, media and client services at Laird & Partners, a new ad agency that handles Donna Karan International and the Gap, said: “When we bring in all the publishers and talk about where our business is at, it’s a real business conversation and editors never come to that conversation. They do come by for special events and visits.” Sometimes, he said, editors will ask why other magazines are getting the company’s ads, and not them.
“People are doing more group dinners, such as a W dinner at Alyce Alston’s house or a Jane dinner at Eva Dillon’s house,” said Black, referring to their respective publishers.
“I once met with David Granger [editor in chief of Esquire]. Esquire had been through a number of different editors and Valerie [Salembier] put together lunches to let him hear what advertisers thought about the magazine. A smart person listens to that.”
“At the end of the day, there is a separation. Europe is much more blatant about it. They [European magazines] will e-mail you and say, ‘You don’t advertise in our magazine, so we won’t cover you, so don’t call on us,”‘ said Black.
Ross Klein, senior vice president, corporate marketing at Polo Jeans, said: “I think Jaclynn and Marvin Jarrett are a good team at Nylon. Jane Pratt and Eva Dillon [editor in chief and vice president, publisher of Jane which, like WWD, is owned by Fairchild] are a very good team. I don’t think there’s a line there. I can call Jane for positioning issues. They have a joint mission and it really works. It’s not a tag team.”
Interview’s Sischy and Sandy Brant, publisher, are another pair who work well in promoting the interests of their magazine, said Ross. “I call Ingrid for direction, and Sandy is very involved in creating a product showcase. Sharon Phair and Kim Hastreiter at Paper also work well together.”
Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York, said Glenda [Bailey] promises to be a good partner for her publisher. She has a very pragmatic approach. Whatever it takes, she’ll do it. She’ll be trotted out,” said Doonan.
Asked whether Wintour at Vogue helps sell the pages, Doonan replied: “Anna is on a whole different level. She’s a fashion deity. As such, she doesn’t need to pound the pavement and schlep to every single event. Her position has been deified”
Rocco Laspata, partner in Laspata/DeCaro, an ad agency here, feels strongly about the Bailey-Lewis partnership. “I’ve also gotten wonderful notes from Graydon Carter [editor in chief of Vanity Fair] that he loved an ad campaign.”
Dominique Browning, editor in chief of House & Garden, said that in Conde Nast’s former headquarters on Madison Avenue here, most of the editors and publishers were on different floors. But in the new building at 4 Times Square, both editors and publishers are on the same floor. “We work as a team. The more Brenda [Saget, publisher] understands what I’m doing, the better off I am, and vice versa,” said Browning.
Cindi Leive, editor in chief of Glamour, who’s been making the rounds of ad agencies and clients with vp, publisher Suzanne Grimes, said, “My role at these meetings is to explain my editorial vision. My role is never to sell the magazine. I explain it, and I sit as a deaf mute as Suzanne talks about advertising because a key part of Glamour’s mission is we have to have integrity.
“I won’t say there aren’t cases where you do feel some concern about editorial credits, but I never feel that pressure from Suzanne [Grimes]. You have to remind advertisers _ and 99.9 percent of them are responsive to this _ that your job is to edit, and yes, you’ll make sure their products are considered, but you’re not favoring advertisers over non-advertisers.”
GQ Cooper explained that the landscape has changed.
“I came out of the newsweekly mindset — Time and Newsweek, and there’s a real separation. Advertisers were people you avoided,” said Cooper. “As I got older and wiser, a few things occurred to me. I think an editor should know as much about the business side as a publisher. I like to hear from advertisers what they think about the magazine.”
Throughout Cooper’s 19-year-tenure as GQ’s editor in chief, he has worked with publishers with different styles. “I did a lot of lunches with Steve Florio when he was publisher, as well as Jack Kliger, who liked to bring me along. Michael Clinton did not. Richard Beckman did less because his lunches were basically “sell” lunches. Tom [Florio] and Ron [Galotti] liked to bring me along a lot. They’re fun guys, and we like to hang around with each other.
“I’ve been with advertisers who have put a real press on,” said Cooper. “They said they would think very seriously about advertising if they’d be profiled or their company would be profiled. Generally, what I do is go the men’s room, and the publisher will say, ‘let’s get off this.”‘