The move centralizes all corporate sales and marketing efforts across Advance's magazine holdings into the new division. Mr. Beckman, previously Conde Nast's chief marketing officer, will add oversight of corporate sales at the company's newspaper supplement Parade to his existing portfolio of magazine units, Conde Nast Publications, Fairchild Publications, the Golf Digest Cos. and online arm CondeNet. As such, the company will begin to offer marketers integrated buys that include Parade.
The change, said Conde Nast's president-CEO, Charles H. "Chuck" Townsend, allows corporate sales "in a more balanced way to represent all operating divisions of the Advance Magazine Group." It also comes one month after Time Inc. announced it would resuscitate its venerable Life magazine as a newspaper supplement, and would thus be able to offer its advertisers corporate buys that include a new, mass-reach vehicle. Parade's circulation is over 30 million. Life is launching with a circulation around 12 million.
The British-born Mr. Beckman, who is approaching his 20-year anniversary at Conde Nast, long ago earned the moniker "Mad Dog" for his hard-charging ways while serving as publisher of key Conde Nast titles such as GQ and Vogue. Since taking over corporate sales in 2002, though, he's won approving reviews of his work, even from those known to have chafed at his aggressive ways in the past.
President's changed role
The move reflects the changed role of Mr. Townsend compared to his predecessor, Steven T. Florio. Mr. Townsend's strengths are in operations and corporate strategy, in contrast to the sales background of Mr. Florio. As such, it was expected that Mr. Townsend would play a less visible role in dealing with key advertisers.
In a media world in which some of the biggest ad deals are struck between the top executives at the involved companies, some thinking within Advance reasons, it was felt an executive on the street with a loftier title than chief marketing officer was a competitive necessity.
Insiders also note that the move subtly repositions him on a more equal footing, title-wise, with unit heads who are obvious potential successors to Mr. Townsend -- Fairchild's president-CEO, Mary Berner, and Golf Digest's president-CEO, Mitch Fox.