OK! Names In Touch Founder Richard Spencer as Top Editor

Hire Is Latest Wrinkle in Magazine's American Sojourn

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The U.S. version of Britain's OK magazine has named Richard Spencer editor in chief. Mr. Spencer is the creator and former editor in chief of In Touch Weekly, which he left in January.

The U.S. version of OK magazine.
The U.S. version of OK magazine.
Mark Pasetsky, who was the highest-ranking editor at OK until now, remains on staff and will retain his title as managing editor, according to a company representative.

The hire is just the latest change at OK, which has seen a number of shifts as it has sought out firm ground on U.S. soil. British media mogul Richard Desmond and his company, Northern & Shell, brought OK to the U.S. five years ago, and the magazine's entry into the U.S. market has been anything but smooth. The publication failed to deliver the circulation it promised to its advertisers on 24 out of the 25 issues from January through June of this year, and it has changed its price five times since its launch. It is now priced at $3.99.

But the magazine's leadership in London (it has no U.S. publishing partner) is confident that the publication will succeed, and perhaps hiring Mr. Spencer as editor in chief is part of the plan.

"We struggled hard in England," Mr. Desmond said of OK's British magazine in an Ad Age interview over the summer. "We took six years to get there, but at the end of the day we got there."

OK's initial editorial strategy of paying large sums to celebrities for exclusive -- and mostly rosy -- interviews, while successful in Britain, did not work in the U.S. And its business strategy, of relying almost exclusively on newsstand sales, also failed to gain traction.

But OK changed its strategy, and during the second half of 2006 and from the summer of 2007 through the end of 2008, OK's paid and verified circulation averaged more than 900,000 -- well ahead of competitor Life and Style in the second half of 2008 and slightly ahead of In Touch Weekly. By the first half of 2010, however, In Touch had topped OK once again, averaging paid circulation of 810,189 to OK's 695,197, according to their reports with the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

"My goal is to enhance content, create sales growth and continuously exceed the expectations of our readers," Mr. Spencer said in a statement announcing his new role at OK.

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