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January 18, 2019

Publishing News

EatingWell Ups Rate Base, Issues, Declaring Commitment to Print
Folio: "Competitors became stablemates a year ago this month, when the parent companies of health-conscious epicurean titles Cooking Light and EatingWell made their blockbuster merger official. One of the more recent developments in the year-long integration of the two magazine publishers was an unfortunate side effect: the announcement that former Time Inc. title Cooking Light was ending regular print editions, forging ahead as a digital brand with intermittent, newsstand-only SIPs and sending its subscribers and regular print features over to EatingWell, which has been owned by Meredith since 2011. For EatingWell, which had already been showing signs that it was capitalizing on growing public interest in healthy eating, incorporating the more widely circulated Cooking Light was a major boost, resulting in four extra issues per year and a 78% increase to its rate base. 'Right now, we are focused on print vitality. This is our commitment,' says Tiffany Ehasz, publisher of EatingWell since coming over from Rachael Ray Every Day in late 2017. 'It reflects our belief in and dedication to a healthy print brand.' With the debut issue of the “new” EatingWell on newsstands now, Folio: chatted with Ehasz—who oversaw a 5% uptick in ad pages last year prior to the combining of the two titles, per PIB data—about bringing Cooking Light into the fold, what advertisers want from the magazine and keeping print vital in 2019." Excerpts from a Q&A with Ehasz: Folio: "In the time since you joined EatingWell in 2017, what do you think has allowed it to not only maintain advertisers, but also attract new advertisers to the print magazine?" Ehasz: "I think it’s all about the conversation that EatingWell has been having for the past 28 years. We’ve always provided amazing content, like recipes and travel writing and James Beard Award-winning chefs. But most importantly, we did all of this amazing content through the lens of food origin, environmental impact and sustainability. What’s been really cool about coming onto this brand is that “eating well” is now mainstream. We’ve totally gone to the masses. And we know that because food culture in itself is pretty amazing right now. Non-GMO, locavore, these are words that people are using in their everyday vernacular. When we saw Amazon buy WholeFoods, we knew that this trend would go mass. We know people are traveling through food to relate to cultures and communities, and we know people are eating paleo, vegan, gluten-free, not necessarily because they have to, but because they want to try out new trends in food. We’re seeing this trend go mass, and I believe that a lot of our advertisers and consumers are on this train as well"... Folio: "Is it safe to say that you see a bright future for the print edition of EatingWell? " Ehasz: "I absolutely do. Listen, our millennial audience grew significantly prior to the combination of these two brands. I don’t have our new numbers quite yet. But the millennial generation is very interested in this conversation. They want to make the world a better place; they’re so hyper-informed. We saw a huge jump in that segment this year, and we only anticipate that it will continue to grow. As this conversation becomes more mainstream and resonates with that younger audience, we only see a rise in our circulation." Folio: "How has the increase from a bimonthly frequency to 10 issues per-year impact the sales operation?" Ehasz: "It’s a great impact. We have more content. There is so much more real estate to play with. From an advertiser perspective, we used to hear that they wished we had more issues, or two holiday issues to run, and now we can deliver it"... Q&A continues. 

Life Archives Inspire Meredith's TV Show for Kids
MediaPost: "Imagine Kids & Family and Meredith Corporation’s in-house television production company, Four M Studios, are set to produce a new animated series for children inspired by Life magazine’s rich archive of photos. Dubbed "Life for Kids," the project is the first collaboration between the companies.The series will use images from Meredith’s Life archives, some never before seen, as a starting point for explorations into historical events and persons. Each episode will focus on a true story across topics such as sports, space, arts, world exploration, natural disasters and technology. The show is executive produced by Imagine Entertainment chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Imagine Kids & Family president Stephanie Sperber and Four M Studios’ Bruce Gersh and Bruce Robertson. The project is the first for Imagine Entertainment’s recently launched Imagine Kids & Family division. It's also Four M Studios’ first time working on a project tied to Life. Life launched in 1936 and produced more than 125,000 image-driven stories and over 10 million photographs, covering sports, politics and pop culture, among other subjects. Only 5% of that material was used during its run. "Life for Kids" comes almost a year after Google Arts & Culture and Meredith Corp teamed up to digitally preserve the magazine’s photography online and through Google’s Arts & Culture app.Life shuttered in 2000 before being resurrected as a website in 2008."

Town & Country, Saks Reprise Jewelry Award Franchise
WWD: "Saks Fifth Avenue will reprise its partnership with Town & Country’s Jewelry Awards for a second year. The magazine introduced this flagship franchise last year, and for its second wave has plans to amp up the event’s profile. It has invited talent including Kelly Ripa, Doutzen Kroes, Lady Kitty Spencer, Adam Rippon and Jordan Roth to present some of the awards. The event will take place on Jan. 24 at Top of the Standard. Winners were announced in Town & Country’s February issue and include the usual high-wattage suspects including Bulgari, De Beers, Tiffany and Cartier"...

Bloomberg CRO's Prescription for Publishers
Writing on LinkedIn about effective strategies for today's content producers, Bloomberg Media chief revenue officer Keith A. Grossman observes that "Brands believing it is the 'best of times' tend to be those navigating this landscape successfully by prioritizing the consumer, thinking about the value proposition of marketing partnerships and redefining the future by exploring new ways to experience and monetize their brand. Those who argue this is the 'worst of times' find themselves in a downward spiral of brand devaluation and are struggling to implement revenue strategies at the expense of the consumer." He describes the key dynamics shaping today's media landscape, and goes on: "Today we are in the midst of a 'trust crisis' as evidenced by the emergence of terms like, 'fake news' and 'alternative facts.' The simplest explanation for this is that the democratization of connectivity with little-to-no verification process created filter bubbles for individuals and like-minded groups. When you combine that with the scale and speed of information consumption via social media and on platforms, the spread of disinformation is accelerated... The good news is that this same 'trust crisis'” has resulted in attention (and marketers) shifting in favor to curated, brand-safe, and trusted environments that produce something stable over time: great content... Successful navigation of this ever-changing landscape will be achieved by ensuring your brand is delivering upon these two consistent consumer expectations: trust and great content. A brand must also be prepared to continuously tailor the consumer experience to ensure they are willing to invest their time while optimizing the manner in which marketers are seeking to invest. To successfully monetize this marketplace, a new type of seller is also required: one who understands the value of their brand as an investment and is also skilled at articulating that value proposition. To understand any marketing partnership through the lens of an investment ensures there is a return of some type. While this seems obvious it is actually a recent development in marketing which has traditionally operated via John Wanamaker’s famous statement: “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.' The impetus for this change is the availability of first-party data provided from interactive, digital impressions previously unavailable with analog engagements. While still new to marketing one must be able to evolve their strategies around ensuring successful marketing partnerships are defined by proven metrics moving forward. Will 2019 be any easier? Probably not. According to a recent Bloomberg Intelligence analysis, ad purchases among the largest global advertisers have 'never outpaced revenue growth for more than two consecutive years in data going back to 2006, with years following back-to-back gains seeing steeper declines as companies reposition business plans. Marketing outlays grew at accelerated levels from 2017-2018, casting a shadow on 2019, given an expected slowdown in top-line growth.' And this becomes increasingly bleak as it spans nearly every category from consumer products to apparel to retail to auto, technology and telecom, to name a few. Today’s content producers are operating in a highly competitive space and it appears to only be getting tougher. At the end of the day, they must ask themselves if they are producing content that is truly trusted and valued, understand this landscape and have the ability to execute." In a related piece, an Ad Age Q&A probes Grossman further on the views in his opinion piece.

Golf Digest's Feb Issue Light on Paid Ad Pages
NY Post: "Golf Digest is struggling to come up with advertisers as parent company Condé Nast continues to seek a buyer. In the February issue that hit this week, 10 of the 26 ad pages come from other Condé Nast brands... [including] three for Bon Appétit and one for foodie website Epicurious. Another ad for book publisher Abrams showcases a “Food in Vogue” coffee-table book. There are also ads for the New Yorker, Architectural Digest and GQ. The Golf Digest sales process has attracted the interest of cable giant Discovery and several other bidders, but insiders said it is still months away from a deal. A Condé spokesman insisted the magazine is 'on target' for the first quarter in terms of ad sales. Meanwhile, GD’s bitter archrival, Golf Magazine, which bank and real estate mogul Howard Milstein bought for an estimated $10M early last year, underwent a sweeping redesign that supersized it and put it on heavier paper stock effective with the February issue. It has 32 ad pages in a 128-page issue. It’s now part of a Milstein-owned company called 8AM Golf, which includes the Nicklaus Companies, in partnership with golf’s Jack Nicklaus, and various other golfing entities"...

Glamour Sees 'Handful' of Cuts; Conde's 2018 Said Better Than Expected
WWD: "As WWD reported last month, editors across Condé Nast’s magazine brands were tasked with trimming their budgets while ensuring they have staffers focused on digital growth. This week, Glamour cut a handful of staffers, including its executive beauty director of five years and an assistant editor. Since it’s only been a year since the last round of layoffs at the outlet and about two months since the publication officially decided to end its run in print, staffers are feeling particularly beset. Glamour’s editorial unit was already small at barely over 20 people, not including photo and art. However, editor in chief Samantha Barry is said to be looking at bringing in a few new faces, all focused more on digital content and operations as the title settles into an online-first mentality. Elsewhere, there have been a small number of cuts at Wired, mainly junior-level staff, and at GQ, where Will Welch formally took over from longtime editor in chief Jim Nelson. Combined cuts for those titles are thought to be less than 10. At GQ at least, there are said to be plans to fill some positions, which will reduce the net loss in head count. Allure, which is about to roll out its first broad redesign under editor in chief Michelle Lee, is also said to be losing at least a couple of full-time positions, while Vogue is not looking to replace its former style director Edward Barsamian. Barsamian just left to join Victoria Beckham’s fashion company as it looks to expand its own editorial voice and identity. A number of staff also left W magazine at the end of last year--unsurprising as the title’s future is uncertain since it’s up for sale, along with Brides and Golf. And the founder and longtime editor in chief of Pitchfork also just left the company, after moving to an oversight role last year. Whether or not Condé fills the gaps left by these changes, the publisher is slowly but surely emerging as a much less baroque version of its former self, focused on digital opportunities (from data collection to e-commerce) and becoming less reliant on print advertising, which still makes up most of its annual revenue. While the company’s fiscal year ends this month, 2018 is thought to have turned out better than anticipated, with quarterly revenue goals met in the first part of the year and exceeded in the second, driven in large part by gains in digital advertising. Since it’s coming off a 2017 loss of about $120M, which includes the cost of reinvestments and the ongoing internal restructuring, it’s easy to spin anything that isn’t an increased loss as a win for the company, but it’s thought that the reduction of the loss in 2018 was significant. Still not a profit, but the last several years have been undeniably tough at Condé, as it has struggled to play catchup with the industry’s digital shift. Things could be starting to level off, however. Along with digital and video ad growth, this year’s print ads are said to have started off well, being more than 70% of the way toward a Q1 goal, a period that tends to set expectations for second and third quarters. How Condé is continuing to draw print advertisers could be something to see. The latest issue of Bon Appétit came with a full wraparound ad for Chevy, featuring the front of a truck and an attempt at word play with “grilling.” Some subscribers took to social media with their dislike... Beyond focusing on digital growth and the steadying of its remaining print titles (there will be eight left after the sale of W, Brides and Golf), Condé has been working in earnest to reduce costs [including production, freelance and expenses budgets and subletting out much of its costly HQ at One World Trade center]... All of this comes amid now formal plans to consolidate into one entity the company’s U.S. and European operations, long operated independently, and to find a new global CEO to run the company as a whole.There may be a new Condé coming, but it’s still a work in progress."


Retail News

Walmart Picks 4 More Grocery Delivery Partners
PG: "Walmart is partnering with four third-party delivery providers to help expand online grocery delivery in metropolitan areas across four states. Part of the mega-retailer's plan to add the service at another 800 stores this year – in addition to the 800-plus already providing the service – Walmart has inked deals with Point Pickup, Skipcart, AxleHire and Roadie. Thousands of customers will now be able to place orders for fulfillment by Walmart's personal shoppers and the delivery networks of these four companies. To build baskets for grocery ecommerce patrons, personal shoppers must complete a three-week training program to learn how to select the freshest produce and top cuts of meat... Currently, Walmart delivers groceries in more than 100 metropolitan areas, with plans to expand to more than 300 by the year's end. It also offers a click-and-collect service that delivers orders directly to shoppers' cars, available in 2,100 stores, with more than 1,000 additional locations planned to offer the service this year. Walmart has been off to a strong start with its grocery ecommerce program so far this year. Earlier this month, it revealed what it described as its largest and first-ever cross-platform marketing campaign for Walmart Grocery Pickup. The service is currently available nationwide and will roll out to even more locations this year. Additionally, the retailer announced a new plan to bring grocery delivery via autonomous vehicles to one community in Arizona. It's teaming with technology company Udelv to introduce the service in the city of Surprise"...

Weis Markets Slashes Prices on 7K-plus Items
PG: "Weis Markets has introduced its Low, Low Price program, which cuts prices on more than 7,000 products across the Mid-Atlantic grocer’s stores. Described by Weis as “the company’s most ambitious price reduction program to date,” the initiative aims for the lowest everyday prices in the market.On Jan. 16, Weis locations across the chain’s seven-state footprint closed early so that associates could work overnight to install signage and update price tags reflecting the new prices before the stores opened at 6 am the next morning. Ahead of the reveal, the grocer hinted on its Facebook page that something major was in the works, noting, “The BIG NEWS is coming very soon!'... In other Weis news, the grocer said it would move up store shipments of high-demand items bought by customers who purchase groceries with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, as the partial government shutdown meant that the program’s recipients would be receiving their February benefits earlier than usual. Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis operates 203 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York West Virginia and Virginia."...

NRF Attendees Express Anxiety for 2019, Citing Chinese Tariffs
RetailWire's George Anderson writes: "While many retailers celebrated having recently turned in one of their strongest holiday seasons in recent memory, attendees at this week’s NRF Show in New York were decidedly less cheery about the industry’s prospects for 2019. You might think that, after one of the longest periods of economic growth in the history of the U.S., most would see an inevitable, cyclical downturn as the biggest risk factor, but in dozens of conversations held at the show this week, tariffs on imports, primarily from China, were mentioned most often as the biggest threat in the year ahead. Retailers worry they will be forced to choose between passing on significant price increases to consumers or absorbing the associated cost hikes to the detriment of their bottom line performance. Attendees placed responsibility for the negative economic effects of tariffs largely on the shoulders of President Trump and his administration. Even supporters of the president, some who blamed inaction on past administrations as increasing the need for the current aggressive stance with China, admitted that Mr. Trump’s plan is unlikely to do much to curb the theft of intellectual property from American companies by the Chinese. The concern around the standoff between the U.S. and China was reflected in a sudden upturn in equity markets yesterday when stock prices began to rise on a report that Steve Mnuchin, U.S. treasury secretary, had proposed in internal discussions the idea of dropping tariffs against the Chinese while the parties negotiated longer-term trade reforms.Many who spoke with RetailWire felt that the tariff war and the current shutdown of the federal government were self-inflicted wounds on the health of nation’s economy. Earlier this week, the Trump administration updated its assessment on the impact of the shutdown on the economy to include government contractors in addition to federal employees. The original estimate, which attributed a 0.1 hit to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) every other week, has been updated to the same percentage on a weekly basis. By the end of the month, that would mean half a percentage point taken out of the U.S. GDP.While none we spoke to were prepared to forecast a recession, most said a downturn was likely within the next several years. Even those who expected moderate growth in 2019, said going up against strong comps from 2018 would make it unlikely that the same types of percentage gains would be achieved in the year ahead."

Save-A-Lot Laying Off Staff at New HQ
PG: "Save-a-Lot, which moved into new corporate headquarters in St. Ann, Mo., last month, is laying off up to 100 people in its corporate office, or about 1% of its 10,000-strong workforce, local news reports have revealed. “We can confirm that a limited number of corporate job reductions were announced today impacting about 1 percent of our company-wide workforce,” the company said in a statement... “The reductions are mostly managerial and administrative positions. They do not include store level team members nor do they impact operations at our 1,300 stores.” The layoffs are receiving some scrutiny due to the recent headquarters move, as the company promised to keep 500 jobs and add 60 more to receive state tax credits and a local property tax break, according to another local report. Save-a-Lot reportedly invested $8M in its new 162,000-square-foot office space in St. Ann's Northwest Plaza, a mixed-use facility with both retail and office space that is a revamped shopping mall. Save-a-Lot, which started as single store in Cahokia, Ill., owned by Bill Moran, has grown to more than 1,300 corporate and licensed stores in 36 states, the Caribbean and Central America. In 1993, the wholesaler/distributor Supervalu acquired the company, which it in turn sold in 2016 to the Canadian firm Onex Corp"...

CVS Health Settles Pricing Fight With Walmart
WSJ: "CVS Health Corp. and Walmart settled their fight over the cost of filling prescriptions, averting a threatened split between the health-care giant and the retail behemoth. CVS said Monday that Walmart was expected to leave drugstore networks of its pharmacy-benefit manager, CVS Caremark. The move would have affected people whose employers have CVS Caremark-administered drug benefits, as well as Medicaid enrollees with CVS drug coverage. Their plans would have stopped paying for prescriptions filled at Walmart, one of the country’s largest retail pharmacy players. Instead, the two companies said Friday morning that they had struck a new deal to keep Walmart in CVS Caremark’s networks. The companies didn’t disclose terms of their agreement but said it covered multiple years.
Wall St. Journal (paid sub req.)

Target's Outgoing CFO Will Stay on Full Pay Through May 2020
Minn. Star-Tribune: "Target Corp. will continue to pay departing CFO Cathy Smith her $800,000 annual base salary and bonus opportunities through the end of her contract on May 1, 2020, according to regulatory filings.The retailer also will pay Smith $1.5M in two cash installments if she signs a two-year non-compete and non-solicitation agreement. The Minneapolis-based retail chain announced on Jan. 10 that Smith would be retiring from the company as soon as her replacement was named, and would then take an advisory role. Smith, 54, joined Target on Sept. 1, 2015 about a year after CEO Brian Cornell was hired. She had been CFO of Express Scripts, the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits manager, as well as Walmart International and GameStop.Smith’s move was the most prominent among a half dozen leadership changes Target announced last week, the same day it reported a healthy 6% jump in holiday sales. 'Cathy’s deep expertise and leadership helped usher in strategic change for Target and positioned us for sustainable, long-term growth,' Cornell said in a statement. In her own statement, Smith said Target was in a position of strength and momentum."...


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