"Carol Loomis predicted this," said Al Ries, chairman of branding consultancy Ries & Ries. "She did more than predict this; she caused it. ... This is such a clear-cut action of a board of directors taking action after a major cover story."
Mike Federle, group publisher of Fortune and Fortune Small Business, demurred at that assertion from Ries and others. "Were we the cause of her going out the door?" Federle asked rhetorically. "It was definitely one of the catalysts."
What Loomis' story on HP certainly shows is that Fortune provides its large editorial staff with the time and resources to write big stories. Federle said that Loomis worked on the story for several months, poring over financials, interviewing analysts, spending time at HP, including hours with Fiorina.
With such strength in business-focused editorial, Fortune has long been attractive to b-to-b advertisers.
Vickie Szombathy, VP-media director at Starlink Worldwide, said she likes Fortune's editorial approach. "In this business climate, people want to know what's going on with what their competitors are doing and getting in the mindset and strategy of business leaders," she said.
Fortune posted an 11.5% gain in ad pages in 2004, according to Publishers Information Bureau, making it by far the magazine's strongest year since the dot-com bubble.
Federle said he believes the year was a turning point in another way.
"Last year," he said, "was kind of the beginning of a new era of more considered media purchases." He defined a "considered media purchase" as one that strives to use media companies as platforms for integrated media buys, which is a strength of Time Warner.
In addition to ad pages in Fortune, b-to-b marketers can have ad messages appear in Time, Fortune Small Business and Business 2.0, and on CNN and CNN.com.