Conde Nast Publications announced this morning that it is shuttering four magazines, following a widely publicized review by McKinsey and Company. Food bible Gourmet will shut down, Brides will increase to monthly publication but Modern Bride and Elegant Bride will close, as will family lifestyle magazine Cookie.
The changes show resolve by Conde Nast to eliminate redundant brands -- an opposite strategy than earlier in the decade, when the company was happy to boast food titles Gourmet and Bon Appetit, men's mags GQ, Details, Cargo, Vitals, and Men's Vogue, home titles House & Garden, Architectural Digest, Domino and occasionally Vogue Living, and numerous women's books including Vogue, Glamour, Self, Jane and Allure. In those days, the company's direction was to block competition and nail down every available ad dollar in a given category.
Now, the company has reversed course. Cargo, Vitals, and Domino (all clones, to some extent, of Conde's successful shopping magazine Lucky), Jane and House & Garden are gone, and Men's Vogue has been folded into Vogue as a twice-annual supplement.
Gourmet is one of the sturdiest brands in Conde's arsenal. But while Gourmet has published since 1940, it chases the same now-scarce ad dollars as Bon Ap, if not the same audience. Conde Nast says it will "remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet's book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious.com." But it remains to be seen how strongly the brand can thrive through those platforms. Brides, an even older book, will be strengthened by the elimination of the other bridal titles Conde Nast acquired in its merger with Fairchild Publications.
The closure of Cookie doesn't eliminate any such redundancy. Cookie had been well received, and brought new categories of advertisers into 4 Times Square, but the period since its 2005 debut has been brutal to launches. Conde Nast was recently forced to shut Portfolio, the high-profile business category launch to which it had committed major resources. (I should note that I've worked for Conde Nast's market research group and also for Cookie, as web editor.)
The women's fashion-interest category, core to Conde Nast, appears unscathed, including flagship Vogue, as well as two other top CNP brands, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. The closures may take pressure off other titles that had been rumored to be in trouble: Details, Teen Vogue, Wired and Allure had appeared often on lists of Conde Nast brands in danger.