MEDIA: BETTER LUCK NEXT YEAR
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
This is one year that most magazine publishers would rather forget.
A giddy 2000 — with ever-climbing revenues and profits — led to soaring projections, but the magazine world, like many other businesses, fell hard in 2001. The economy was already faltering early in the year, and advertising was sliding, too, what with disenchantment for dot-coms and softness in the automobile, tobacco and high tech categories. After Sept. 11, — just as many magazines were closing their December issues — ads were canceled, schedules were either reduced or pushed back and the overall environment became highly uncertain. Cost controls, layoffs and closing of unprofitable titles became the new rules.
December issues saw ad pages plunge across the board. For the month, Elle’s ad pages plunged 41.8 percent, while Glamour’s were off 40.2 percent, according to Media Industry Newsletter. As for the year, most fashion magazines reported declines: Vogue, 2 percent; W, 2.8 percent; In Style, 7.5 percent; Harper’s Bazaar, 8 percent; Elle, 16 percent, and Glamour, 17.3 percent, according to MIN.
Advertising was hard to find after Sept. 11, but notices of closings were plentiful. Among the most prominent was Mademoiselle, which folded after 66 years in business. Among others, Mode, Family Life and Expedia Travel also shut down, and Talk magazine appears to be in flux, with reports circulating that Hearst Magazines wants out of its joint-venture partnership with Miramax Films.
The advertising pressures and intense environment led to shakeups at the tops of several editorial mastheads, too. Bonnie Fuller’s contract wasn’t renewed at Glamour, and Kate Betts was dismissed at Harper’s Bazaar.
At Glamour, Fuller was succeeded by Cindi Leive, who had been editor in chief of Self, and Lucy Danziger, former editor in chief of the now-defunct Sports for Women, succeeded Leive at Self.
At Bazaar, Glenda Bailey, who had been editor in chief of Marie Claire, took over for Betts. Lesley Jane Seymour, editor in chief of Redbook, took over Bailey’s role at Marie Claire. All these moves set in motion masthead overhauls at Bazaar, Marie Claire, Glamour and Self.
Fabien Baron, ad agency owner and former creative director of Bazaar under Liz Tilberis, was considering a return to the title as creative director, but after several weeks of intense negotiations, Baron and Bailey couldn’t come to terms. Bailey finally named Stephen Gan editor in chief of Visionaire.
Betts went on to become a freelance writer, penning for such publications as the New York Times, and Fuller became a consultant to a new home magazine at Meredith Corp.
As dot-coms ran out of cash and flamed out, many editors who had ventured into that realm last year found themselves unemployed. Several came back to print jobs.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the attacks, fashion advertisers felt compelled to reassess what messages they would send out for holiday and spring. They believed that 2001 was not the year to show dark and gloomy advertising, nor sexually explicit images, and that messages should be more upbeat and positive.
Abercrombie & Fitch canceled its holiday catalog, which is always sexually charged, and for the first time ever, Diesel made some changes to an existing campaign that gave surreal and often bizarre advice on what to do to stay eternally young and beautiful. It changed the copy “Save Yourself” to “Stay Young.” Other companies, particularly the European design firms, decided to be less opulent in their spring ads.
As Karl Lagerfeld succinctly put it, “Now we need another kind of shock in a positive way.” He derided recent campaigns that depicted the “nouveau riche” showing their wealth or overtly sexy images. “It should just be about modern life…and done by instincts and not marketing.”