Monday, February 9, 2009

Grazia stops the press

The hits just keep on coming for ACP's apparently unstoppable fashion weekly, Grazia, judging by this mock newspaper promo mailout (above) just sent to advertisers by ACP and which floated frockwriter's way on Friday afternoon. Evidently jack of all the negative press coverage, ACP decided to go into the news business itself. And guess what? When it comes to Grazia, it's all good news!

The headline blasts:

"Grabbing headlines for all the right reasons!"

Underneath, a score of more good news headlines, which include the revelation that television advertising is due to recommence in March.

Among the bullet points:

"Blitzing the newsagents with sexy solo point of sale initiatives"

"Increasing presence at premium supermarket checkouts and reading centres"

" stronger than ever - 16million page views and 1.5million unqiue browers since launch"

And the pièce de résistance:

"Advertising revenue surpassing all expectations"

Given how many names of industry experts and authorities are rattled off, it's a wonder that could not ID a photograph of Australia's hottest new modelling export, Myf Shepherd, two weeks ago. But look, let's not dwell on that. With one fashion staffer recently moving off the masthead and into a consulting role - Lenna Boord - perhaps Grazia's authorities just have a little too much on their plates.

You can’t blame ACP for wanting to make its own headlines, considering how bad some of Grazia's press has been.

First there were retrenchments, amidst rumblings of 150 job cuts, at ACP parent PBL – with Grazia’s future mooted to be uncertain.

Then there was the rumour that the magazine might move monthly.

The rumour was swiftly refuted by ACP Magazines' Publishing Director Women’s Lifestyle Pat Ingram - shortly before ACP made the announcement that Ingram had decided to transition to retirement.

Most recently came the news that Woolworths plans to move Grazia from the prime checkout position in “the majority” of its 780 stores to the general magazine section, due to slow sales, with predictions that circulation figures for the December quarter will be lower than the 70,000 of the initial audit.

As noted by Australia's leading fashion media-specialist blog, Girl With A Satchel, advertising/promotional pages accounted for a mere 10percent of Grazia's recent issue #27, compared with 38percent of the launch issue and 19percent and 23percent of the September 1 and December 1 issues respectively.

“But it is just hanging in” one industry analyst told frockwriter.

Obviously there was some terrific news for Grazia in November, with the news that the magazine had “hit launch expectations” by achieving its target circulation of 70,000+ copies for its preliminary Audit Bureau of Circulations audit, based on an average of the first 10 weeks of sales.

According to Nielsen Online data, the website generated 9,830,512 million page impressions in the first three months, a result Pat Ingram described as “incredible”.

Indeed some considered the news so incredible that they bitched about the figures on GWAS, accusing ACP of manipulating figures.

Friday's even more terrific Grazia news coincided of course with some very bad news for the media sector.

News Corporation announced a 42percent profit nosedive, the company's biggest trading loss in its 50 year history: a $US5.9billion first half net loss (A$9.2billion), due to a second quarter net loss of $US6.417 billion ($A9.82 billion).

News Corp’s Wall Street Journal subsidiary announced 25 job cuts, with the title’s newly expanded retail and luxury division the hardest hit. Sending tremors through the fashion business, those departing include the WSJ’s 23 year veteran fashion reporter Teri Agins, for whom the WSJ’s fashion round was original created in the 1980s.

Earlier in the week ACP’s PBL stablemate Ninemsn announced 20 job cuts.

The news that ad revenue at Grazia is "surpassing all expectations" follows the release of the March issues of Australian Vogue and Harpers Bazaar, whose bumper ad pages from luxury fashion and beauty companies suggest that both magazines are defying the global economic meltdown.

Given today's media story in The Australian however, which cites one industry source claiming that LVMH Group, the world's biggest luxury conglomerate, has cut its Australian advertising budget by 30percent, it's more than a little confusing trying to work out precisely what is going down.

Another local media industry insider told frockwriter that "distress rates" have become the new black in the Australasian fashion and beauty media, with 25percent off ad card rates offered by some outlets - with last-ditch, last-minute offers of 40percent off not unheard of.


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