How Dawn Ostroff Will Carry Conde Nast's Brands Across TV, Movies and Digital

Ad Age Talks to Company's Newly Appointed President of Entertainment

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For many years Conde Nast, publisher of magazines from Vogue to The New Yorker, resisted the opportunity to push its brands into media such as TV, but all that has changed. Today Conde Nast named Dawn Ostroff to the newly created role of president of Conde Nast Entertainment, where she will lead the development, creation, production and distribution of original TV, film and digital efforts based on Conde Nast brands and content. Ms. Ostroff stepped down as president of The CW cable network earlier this year, ending a five-year run there. She was previously president of UPN from 2002 through 2006; and before that , she was exec VP-entertainment at Lifetime Television.

Advertising Age: Vogue passed on Project Runway, ceding what would become a big platform to rival Elle and later Marie Claire. Should magazine brands be concerned that their competition will take the airwaves if they don't get there first? Is getting into TV and film important for defense as well as for offense?

Dawn Ostroff
Dawn Ostroff

Dawn Ostroff: There is definitely opportunity in the entertainment space for all of the brands here. And I think that what's exciting is that because the magazines are continually publishing interesting articles and continually coming into contact with interesting people, there's a constant flow of interesting source material for different types of entertainment content.

The type of content we're going to look to develop -- and this is obviously after we put together a real strategic business plan that makes sense on how to build this out -- the goal really is to create a library and have content that will go across all platforms: Television content, broadcast and cable, feature films and digital -- which would be in many different forms and distribution platforms. So I think what's exciting about this is nothing has been mined internally in the way that Conde Nast has had the opportunity to. As we all know and have heard, it's becoming quite apparent that content is king, and Conde Nast is king in the content business in the magazine world. Now they want to develop content for the entertainment world across all platforms.

Ad Age : How much risk is inherent in TV and film? How much is acceptable? "The Playboy Club" seems like a reminder that magazine brands can easily get themselves associated with big failures.

Ms. Ostroff: It depends on what it is . There are different things that could spur a feature film or a TV show, and it doesn't have to be specific to the magazine title itself. Magazine source material is one of the best resources that development people use. Obviously we would have a bit of a leg up on that . There's also the future which is digital channels. Cable channels have certainly been successful to a certain degree, and we think digital channels are where the future lies. My CW experience, seeing how many people are migrating to streaming their episodes, was a good lesson to see what the future is . Digital channels are going to be a tremendous opportunity for a company like Conde Nast.

Everything is obviously a risk in the television and feature film business, but the flip side is when you get it right it can be a huge home run. The goal is to build an asset in this division for Conde Nast and add a revenue stream for them and for the magazine brands, so that they're maximizing the content they already have.

Ad Age : So are all film options and the like based on Conde Nast magazine articles going to go through you?

Ms. Ostroff:That's way too early to determine. My goal here for the next few months is to talk to all the editors and publishers and understand what the brands goals are, learn more about which brands lend themselves to which platforms, and then build the team internally. In a few months I'll have a clearer vision of how we're going to approach it.

Ad Age : What's in all this for Conde Nast advertisers? Is there an opportunity for a media agency or marketer to get in on the ground floor of planning a show?

Ms. Ostroff: I think there will be many opportunities in many different ways -- everything from product integration to very innovative initiatives using the content that we're going to develop to possibly using digital channels -- which would be a more direct relationship with the advertisers. But I in particular come from a very strong belief that the advertisers have always been our partners and collaborators, particularly at the CW. We created a whole new sales strategy for the CW and our streaming content and we couldn't have done it without the support of advertisers who were extremely innovative and forward-thinking. I'm sure they will be strong partners in whatever Conde Nast develops.

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