NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Magazines may not be recession-proof, but food is -- and for print editions that can harness the necessity of good cooking that's time- and calorie-efficient, that may be enough.
Take Cooking Light, the 23-year-old epicurean linchpin of Time Inc. It's holding steady as the food category's largest, with paid circulation of 1.78 million in the first half of the year, up 2% from the first half of 2009. And its ad pages from January through Sept. have surged 18% over the same period in 2009, according to Media Industry Newsletter stats.
Much of Cooking Light's success owes to substantial investment from Time Inc., said VP-Publisher Stephen Bohlinger. "They invested in a wise way, in focus groups, in talking to our readers, and in listening to what was important to them," said Mr. Bohlinger, who took the reigns as publisher in December 2008, which many consider the trough of the Great Recession.
The magazine's redesign last year, directly reflective of reader feedback, increased focus on product. Mr. Bohlinger said Cooking Light is "knee-deep" in developing an iPad app as well, part of its expanding digital strategy.
Cooking Light has also inked a deal with food-service provider Aramark, which will feature its recipes in the dining rooms of dozens of Fortune 500 companies nationwide, including Johnson & Johnson and JP Morgan Chase. It expects to have up to 150 chef's tables open by the end of 2011.
"We have our 25th anniversary coming up [in 2012], and we just going to continue to innovate," Mr. Bohlinger said.