1. Marie Claire
Four print issues this year set ad-sales records for their specific months and September proved to be its biggest ever for this brand, led by Ad Age 's Publisher of the Year Nancy Berger Cardone. But it wasn't just traditional ad-page gains that caught our eye. With Chanel as a partner it launched the Backstage Beauty Trends iPad App and Marie Claire @Work, which debuted last year as a saddle-stitched supplement, came back in 2012 with bigger, perfect-bound issues this May and September. In a bittersweet sign of Marie Claire's success, last month Hearst re-assigned Editor Joanna Coles to edit company flagship Cosmopolitan, but Ms. Cardone quickly brought in Anne Fulenwider, a Marie Claire veteran who'd decamped in 2011 to lead Conde Nast's Brides, to replace her.
2. Harper's Bazaar
What do you do when a big rival moves to your home turf? Harper's Bazaar faced that question after its parent, Hearst Magazines, bought the rights to publish Elle in 2011. Harper's responded with a luxury-leaning redesign in March that made the most of print. That helped Harper's publish its biggest September issue, part of a10.8% increase in the issues from January through October, according to Media Industry Newsletter. The brand also introduced the ShopBazaar site, continued expanding a Pinterest following, experimented with personalized Neiman Marcus ads and held newsstand sales steady.
3. Food Network Magazine
The A-List will stop honoring Food Network Magazine -- Ad Age 's Launch of the Year in 2009 and an A-List member in 2010 and 2011 -- as soon as conditions give us much choice. But Food Network Magazine saw ad pages grow even faster so far this year (15.9% through the October issue) than in the equivalent period last year. Its newsstand sales grew 17.8% in the first half, again more than last year, while magazines on the whole fell. Food Network Magazine is now seriously big as well, guaranteeing paid circulation of 1.4 million in the first half and delivering 1.6 million.
4. Architectural Digest
The 92-year-old Architectural Digest has been on a tear lately, increasing ad pages 5.7% in 2010, 9.1% in 2011 and 11.3% in its 2012 issues through October -- putting the title on track to break 1,000 ad pages this year for the first time since 2008. Its success -- also evident in its 8.6% first-half lift on newsstands -- owes partly to the 2010 redesign under then-new Editor-in-Chief Margaret Russell, but also to its work beyond print, such as a more robust website this summer, the AD @Oasis spaces introduced at Art Basel and the four-day Architectural Digest Home Design Show, which drew a record 43,000 attendees this year.