Magazine A-List 2009

Cosmopolitan Is No. 9 on Ad Age's Magazine A-List

A Big, Bold Brand That Fearlessly Takes on Challenges for Marketers

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- Cosmopolitan is a satellite radio station. It is a publisher of books ("Cosmo's Aqua Kama Sutra") and online games ("Makeup Mah-jongg"). In Canada and Latin America, it is a cable channel. It has more fans on Facebook than the Lohan and Gosselin clans combined, and it tweets to thousands of followers with the verve of Courtney Love on an all-nighter.

So powerful and ubiquitous is the Cosmo brand, in fact, that it's easy to overlook the magazine that spawned it all. Happily for Hearst, few marketers targeting spend-happy young women fell into this trap, even during a year when many fled magazines as if they were a Fashion Bug outlet.

Keep your editorial voice consistent even while migrating you brand into new venues and show marketers how they can take advantage.
Donna Lagani
Kate White
"When money's tight, you always go for strong values or properties or brands that you know will not disappoint you," said Nicolas Maurer, VP-marketing-cosmetics for Nivea parent Beiersdorf North America. "That's what you're finding with Cosmopolitan."

Such a sentiment resonates with Cosmopolitan senior VP-Publishing Director Donna Lagani. While acknowledging that '09 presented its share of challenges -- she noted, unflinchingly, a 14% year-on-year drop in ad pages -- Ms. Lagani believes that both the magazine and the brand have never been healthier.

"When clients' business gets tough, they turn back to strong brands they can count on," she said. "When choices are being made by consumers to buy fewer magazines, they continue to buy Cosmo -- and at a premium price." The magazine boasts a circulation of nearly three million and an average single-copy price of $4.37, both of which dwarf the competition.

Lynne Greene, global brand president for Clinique, Origins and Ojon, agreed. "Cosmo hits a sweet spot in terms of the age demographics. It has a fine circulation, and you get tremendous efficiency."

Where Cosmo trumps most peers is in the smart, aggressive way it wields its brand, both to generate revenue streams outside of the magazine and to forge effective partnerships with top marketers. This year, Revlon sponsored the title's Fun Fearless Male Awards, while Maybelline is on board for the upcoming Cosmo Kisses for the Troops.

One of the highest-profile and most creative programs during the last two years has been its pairing with Nivea on the Cosmo Bikini Bash. In March, Cosmo and its minions swarmed Miami's Nikki Beach for the biggest bikini photo shoot in North America (their words, not ours). The event culminated with hundreds of gals spelling out both "Cosmo" and "Nivea" on the beach, which was photographed from above.

1. Women's Health
2. Better Homes & Gardens
3. Family Circle
4. The Economist
5. People
6. Essence
7. The Week
8. Backpacker
9. Cosmopolitan
10. National Geographic
"We wanted to do something with our Good-Bye Cellulite cream, and they came back with, 'Why don't we do a call to action where we ask the Cosmo reader to do a bikini preparation camp with Nivea?' They always respond in a big, bold way," Mr. Maurer said.

Needless to say, that's by design. "When everybody is fat and happy, advertisers spread dollars thinly and equally. In times like this, they have to make choices that impact the bottom line," Ms. Lagani noted. "We're very receptive to trying things. We're not afraid to push the limits of what we think makes sense."

Most Popular