G&J plans take shape

By Published on .

Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing, seven months after president and CEO Daniel Brewster moved in, has a new Child, new projects under development, and a new executive in New Yorker VP-publisher David Carey.

Mr. Carey, 39, was hired last week as president-CEO of G&J's new Business Information Group, which encompasses Inc., purchased last June for about $200 million, and Fast Company, purchased last month for $360 million.

His charge is to grow the segment "with books, radio, whatever makes sense," Mr. Brewster said. He also hinted at the possibility of American launches of some of G&J's European business titles, such as the German Capital. Mr. Brewster's mandate when he took over G&J last June was to double the company's annual revenue of about $420 million within five years.

Meanwhile, inside G&J's magazine incubator unit, is a new project spearheaded by Alexandra Penney, onetime editor in chief of Conde Nast Publications' Self. Mr. Brewster would only say to call it a women's title "would be inaccurate." But, one exec close to the company described it as title for 30-something women focusing on life experiences. Another G&J exec said the project was not related to Mr. Carey's business group. Ms. Penney could not be reached for comment.

In late December, a major direct-mail test for Friday, a lifestyle title aimed at a younger female demographic than G&J currently serves, hit consumers' mailboxes. The Friday project is overseen by Sally Koslow, the former editor of McCall's who moved over to G&J development shortly before talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell's name was attached-and later superseded-that magazine's title. Mr. Brewster said the results of Friday's test would be known in late March.

Last week the company unveiled the redesign of its Child-replete with heavier paper stock and more artful photography. Child, despite being theoretically positioned as an upscale companion to G&J's Parents, was frequently lost in the larger title's shadow.

Publisher Sharon Summers said the repositioning toward lifestyle from how-tos would help her target a different group of advertisers, like Polo Ralph Lauren. Those advertisers, she said, "are willing to sacrifice some efficiency" in order to enter a more lavish editorial environment found in the new Child.

To many, this sounds like Offspring, the parenting offshoot of SmartMoney closed Jan. 3 by Hearst Magazines and Dow Jones & Co. after the title netted under 50,000 subscriptions in its four-issue life span. "It was pretty painful looking through [Child] and seeing the blatant imitation of Offspring," said Chris Lambiase, the publisher of SmartMoney and who also oversaw Offspring.

Child Editor in Chief Miriam Arond dismissed Mr. Lambiase's charge, saying her title was "celebratory" while Offspring had "a lot of angst."

Despite the sharper look, the new advertisers Ms. Summers shoots for have yet to pack the pages of the new book-new advertisers cited by Ms. Summers were Stride-Rite and Firestone. It may prove tough to ask advertisers to sacrifice efficiency as the economy slows down. Child's full-color open page rate of $61,525 and its rate base of 1,020,000 remain unchanged.

Advertisers and media buyers clearly liked the new Child, even if Offspring figured into nearly all of their comments. But John Frierson, president of Frierson Mee & Partners, New York was less certain about the repositioning. "It's hard for a luxury brand or more traditional advertiser to be sandwiched in among pediatric medicine and diaper ads," he said. "They don't want to do that."

Mr. Carey, meanwhile, leaves on leaves one of the industry's most prestigious posts for an unproven entity at the company's Business Information Group, and he reached out to friends in the industry for advice as late as four days before the announcement. One lure was the promise of a big payout down the line tied to future performance, and stock options in G&J's majority owner Bertlesmann. Mr. Carey's successor at the New Yorker is his associate publisher, David Kahn, 39.

Most Popular
In this article: