When The New Republic said last summer that it was creating a brand marketing studio called Novel, it seemed a bit out of character. The magazine, which has been referred to as the "in-flight magazine of Air Force One," has been known throughout its history as a lofty journal of ideas, rather than as a platform for brand engagement.
But Novel was conceived under the management of former owner Chris Hughes and CEO Guy Vidra, who attempted to transform the magazine into a 21st-century digital media company. So when Mr. Hughes formally sold the New Republic in February after just less than four years, it seemed like Novel's days at the company could be numbered.
Now new publisher Hamilton Fish confirmed, in a Monday memo first reported by FishbowlNY, that the Novel team will leave the company. "The Novel team will be departing on April 1 and I have agreed to enable the team to retain their entire client list should they find a new home," he wrote.
Kayvan Salmanpour, who co-founded Novel and served as chief revenue officer for both the agency and the New Republic at large, is among the departing staffers. He said in a phone call Monday that Novel is being spun off from the New Republic, and that he's "assessing where to go next" with the agency.
Contrary to the way it's been described in the press, Mr. Salmanpour said Novel was incubated inside the New Republic as an agency business, and was not an in-house native content studio of the sort that would focus on advertorials for the publication.
Though it is parting ways with The New Republic, Mr. Fish said Novel was able to put together "an impressive roster of clients," including Audible, Casper, Bevel and Getty Images.
When announcing his intention to sell the New Republic in January, Mr. Hughes mentioned Novel as one of the company's business-side accomplishments, and said: "We have made it possible for The New Republic to survive and begin to flourish in its second century."