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September 21, 2017

Publishing News

Famed New Yorker Writer Lillian Ross Dies at 99
The New Yorker honors Lillian Ross, who has died yesterday at age 99. Ross, who joined the magazine in 1945, "pioneered literary journalism," states the tribute. Excerpts: Ross "continued to appear in [The New Yorker's] pages for the next seventy-odd years, which means that she was not just a contributor but a creator--one of those whose style and tone became a standard to which later writers aspired. That tone--acutely observant, intimate, and very frequently amused--emerged in some of her earliest and best-known pieces, including her profile of Ernest Hemingway and the five-part series on the making of John Huston’s 'The Red Badge of Courage.' (The Xeroxes of her articles made for distribution in the nation’s journalism classes, if piled on top of one another, would reach to the moon.) She was a master of the Talk of the Town form, with its comic distillation of social mores. She was game for anything, but also knew when to turn an assignment down... Ross, who spent decades in a relationship with William Shawn, the second editor of [The New Yorker], who was married, adopted a son, Erik, who was born in 1965... her rapport with younger people, especially very young people, was immediate and absolute... [She] was a generous champion of younger writers at the magazine, especially younger writers who sought, like her, to chronicle New York’s human comedy.

AMI Promotes Flamberg to VP, Beauty and Style
WWD: "American Media Inc. has promoted Gwen Flamberg to VP of beauty and style for the company’s celebrity group. She also grabbed the role of executive editor of beauty and style for US Weekly, which AMI bought from Wenner Media in March for a $100M. Flamberg, who previously served as beauty director of US Weekly, will now report to AMI chairman and CEO David Pecker... In her new role, the editor will oversee beauty and style coverage for AMI’s celebrity titles, including US Weekly, Star and OK!, across all platforms." Before joining US in 2008, Flamberg's experience in the category included roles at Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Day and Fitness.

Marie Claire Opens Pop-Up Shop
WWD: Marie Claire "hopes its Next Big Thing concept shop at 120 Wooster Street in Manhattan’s SoHo, inspires consumers to purchase the products. 'We want to create a conversation with people whose intellectual currency is knowing about the next big thing,' said publisher Nancy Berger. The pop-up shop, a partnership between Marie Claire and MasterCard, operates through Oct. 12. Participants such as Neiman Marcus, B8TA and Clarins, among others, offer the latest innovations in style, beauty, entertainment, technology and wellness..."

Why Dennis Chose Print for Its Hit U.K. Launch, The Week Junior
In a Q&A with FIPP, Dennis Publishing chief executive Kerin O'Connor explains why the publisher chose print for The Week Junior, "the fastest-growing subscription magazine that Dennis has ever published." "The perceived wisdom suggested that children read digital products, they had little interest in the news, and that it’s solely video content they want," he relates. "But when we dug further into this audience, we found that U.K. children’s books sales were at a 10-year high. The highest level since the last 'Harry Potter.' Children were reading just as much as ever in print. So we began to develop a product... Print allows you to be more of an editor and so...we can better lead [this younger audience] into the most important, interesting and fascinating things in the world right now. Only print can really give an immersive experience, with great breadth and pacing. It’s very difficult to achieve that experience on a phone, or in an app or on a website. Also, print is universal. Not all nine year olds have iPhones. And we know that lots of our readers like to keep the copies. They’re also easier to share within the family or discuss editorial with parents... [and] the quality is higher because the pictures look better. I think if you were dispassionately working out what the two platforms could achieve, you’d end up with print as the best choice. Because print’s a bit out of fashion, it seems like a slightly strange decision, but it’s not. It’s the right choice, as our success proves." On takeaways for other publishers: "If you think about what’s happened with digital and print over the last 20 years, print publishers have said, ‘We need to go into digital and that’s where the future is.' They’ve come up with different content models and understandings, poured resources into it, and print circulations have declined alongside this process. As advertising money has shifted out, there doesn’t seem to have been as much attention to reader revenues as I think there should have been. One thing we’ve always kept our eye firmly on here is reader revenue. Our company newsstand income makes up around 10% of [our] total customer revenues. We generate the vast majority of our income from subscriptions and e-commerce, because we’ve got direct customer relationships. I think publishers should continue to think long and hard about their direct customer relationships--how they can nurture them and become a direct part of peoples’ lives. We also need to keep doing great products that people want to consume... [With some products,] publishers seem to be...investing less in editorial, making the magazines shorter and then increasing the price. No wonder customers go elsewhere... We spend a lot of time at Dennis making sure that it’s easy for our customers to buy a magazine, to find out when it’s going to turn up, to renew their subscription--because you want to try to remove as many barriers to the relationship as possible. You want buying a magazine to be easy." O'Connor also talks about the editorial concept and launch marketing strategy.

Time Unpacks the Social Strategy Behind New FIRSTS Project
MIN: "Time recently rolled out FIRSTS, an impressive multimedia project highlighting 46 women who’ve broken barriers across various fields. The project includes an interactive site, short films, candid interviews, portraits, a social media campaign and, later this month, a hardcover book, featuring female athletes, scientists, lawmakers, entertainers and entrepreneurs who have led their fields and broken ceilings. The issue features 12 split-run covers, each highlighting a member of FIRSTS, including Hillary Clinton, Mo’ne Davis, Ellen DeGeneres, Ava DuVernay, Sylvia Earle and Selena Gomez, among others. For the cover photography, Time commissioned Brazilian photographer Luisa Dörr, whose work is best known on Instagram (@luisadorr). Dörr took portraits of each of the 46 woman with her iPhone, including the cover images. Time’s director of photography and visual enterprise, Kira Pollack, was not only the brains behind the project, but selected many details surrounding the project, including Dörr... 'We saw this as a mobile-first project, and could have a great life on Instagram, Instagram Stories and Facebook,' says Pollack. “[Dorr's] work is perfectly suited to be viewed on mobile. She also has a big audience on Instagram, so we knew that we could launch a lot of that material on Time’s Instagram feed to our 4.4M followers. We created the hashtag #SHEISTHEFIRST and launched a call out several weeks before the project across many Time Inc. titles, including In Style and Real Simple. The hashtag was to inspire conversation and for our audience to share their stories about being a first or knowing a first'"...

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How PopSci Uses Video to Find New Audiences on Social Media
Popular Science engagement editor Mallory Johns shares strategy in a Folio: Q&A: "In general, our goals are two-fold: 1) brand awareness, and 2) influencing the next generation of scientists, science writers, and curiosity aficionados. Across both platforms, we’re providing our community with a chance to go more in-depth with our articles by engaging with curiosity-inducing graphics and videos. And more specifically on Snapchat, we use that platform to get weird, whether through our semi-weekly series PopFriday or through takeovers with our editors... PopSci‘s Instagram feed is nearly 100% video. We focus on sharing short videos around specific content buckets, so our community knows what to expect when they come to our feed—for example, most Fridays they can expect to see cool videos about flora and fauna, for example. We also have a robust archive--featuring well over 144 years of stories and scientific curiosities--and without fail, these posts are top-performers for us on Instagram. Additionally, our community loves to see anything about space or mind-blowing creatures... We think of Instagram Stories as entirely separate from our Instagram profile, so we use Stories for two things: 1) To highlight the work of scientists in the field through account takeovers, and 2) To breakdown a feature or trending article—highlighting key elements—to direct our community back to our site to read more... We often cross-post content from our Instagram Stories to our Snapchat Stories because we’ve noticed a lot of overlap between the two communities, but we do host a semi-weekly, Snapchat-exclusive show called PopFriday, where we show off short science experiments..."


Retail News

Albertsons to Aquire Plated Meal Kit Service; HelloFresh's New Ad Campaign
SN: "In a move the company said would 'reinvent the way consumers discover, purchase, and experience food,' Albertsons Cos. said Wednesday it would acquire New York-based meal-kit company Plated. Terms were not disclosed of the deal that is expected to close later this month. Albertsons said Plated would operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Albertsons under its own leadership team led by its co-founder and CEO Josh Hix. The deal will allow Plated--which had annual sales of more than $100M, according to reports — to become the first omnichannel meal kit offering with national scale. The partnership would allow the company to expand beyond its subscription model with new distribution points including Albertsons store locations. Plated’s marketing and acquisition efforts will also benefit by gaining exposure to Albertson 35 million customers per week. For Albertsons, Plated will provide an avenue toward more personalized and versatile shopping experiences, CEO Bob Miller said. 'Today’s consumer is looking for a variety of personalized shopping alternatives, and this transaction is the latest example of Albertsons Cos. meeting our customers wherever and however they like to shop,' Miller said. 'With Plated, we’ve found a partner who shares our commitment to delicious, affordable food; superior technology and innovation; and world class customer service. Plated knows its customers better than anyone, and together we will accelerate our ability to serve them'"... In a related item, MediaPost reports on a new TV campaign from rival meal kit service HelloFresh, and current dynamics in the market.
Supermarket News (Plated)
MediaPost (HelloFresh)

Aldi Now Accepts Contact-Free Payment
PG: "Aldi now accepts all forms of contact-free payment – including Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Android Pay – at all of its stores nationwide, helping speed up its already fast checkout process. Now shoppers can pay for their groceries by tapping their contactless-enabled bank card, smartphone or other enabled wearable device on a payment terminal. Contactless payments have the same protection as making a payment with a PIN, which ensures safety and security... Last month, the grocer launched a pilot with Instacart, allowing customers in Atlanta, Dallas and L.A. to have their groceries delivered to their homes in as little as an hour."

Whole Foods to Shift to Conventional, Centralized Merchandising Model
WSJ reports that now that it's owned by Amazon, Whole Foods will rapidly change to operate more like a centralized, conventional supermarket chain. It will "change the way companies can sell and market their products in stores beginning next year." Starting in April, its 470 locations "will no longer allow brand representatives to promote their products or check to make sure they are stocked and displayed correctly. Whole Foods also is centralizing much of its decision-making regarding the assortment of products across the country. Instead of allowing brands to frequently pitch their products to individual stores or regions, Whole Foods executives in its Austin, Texas headquarters will choose a higher percentage of the items stores carry..."
Wall St. Journal (paid sub req.)

Aldi's Plan for U.S. Conquest: Limiting Choice
"German discounter Aldi, is betting billions it can win over spoiled American shoppers," writes WSJ. "How? By offering them fewer choices—way fewer—than rival retailers. The unlikely proposition has worked nearly everywhere Aldi has set foot..." Since family-owned Aldi has managed to keep secret most of its operational specifics, WSJ "figured out Aldi’s idiosyncratic playbook through internal documents, the company’s rare public filings, and interviews with past and present managers. It offers a deliberately pared-down selection, sometimes a tiny fraction of the number of items sold by rivals, which helps Aldi cut costs to levels U.S. grocers can only dream of. Among other benefits, fewer items means faster turnover, smaller stores, less rent, lower energy costs and fewer staff to stock the shelves..." Article provides history of Aldi and contrasts its limited-assortment strategy with that of most U.S. retailers offering thousands of SKUs.
Wall St. Journal (paid sub req.)

Roche Bros. to Build Third 'Marketplace'
SN: "Roche Bros. has revealed plans to open a third location of its Brothers Marketplace banner early next year in Waltham, Mass., signaling confidence in the innovative small-store concept it debuted three years ago. Roche Bros. opened the first two locations of Brothers Marketplace in Weston and Medfield, Mass., respectively, in 2014 as a means of capturing the growing prevalence of single-meal and other convenience-focused food shopping trips that its traditional supermarkets were missing..."

Jobs: Amazon Takes, Then Gives Back
Dallas News: "Amazon says it doesn't count how many of these people it has hired. But, according to the U.S. Labor Department, the number of workers who lost their jobs at department stores like Sears, Macy's and J.C. Penney since 2000 is about the same as the 444,000 hired by the warehousing industry. Many of these new warehouse jobs are at Amazon fulfillment centers, buildings of about a million square feet where products are retrieved, packed into boxes and shipped to homes around the country. The 125,000 people toiling in Amazon's distribution network account for about 25 percent of the warehouse jobs added in the last 20 years. So while critics including Barack Obama and Donald Trump have blamed Amazon for destroying retail jobs, the online giant is also providing a potential lifeline to those same workers..."


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