Condé Nast Considers Licensing To Mitigate Losses

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In seeking out fresh revenue streams, Condé Nast may boldly explore a frontier where no Condé magazine has ventured before: the realm of licensing.

Apparently, licensing has long been considered at Condé Nast. The New York Observer reports rumors surrounding this issue have been circulating throughout the ranks of Condé Nast executives — David Carey and Robert Sauerberg, in particular.

However, the idea was never seriously considered because Si Newhouse, CEO of Advance Publications, which owns Condé Nast, felt the move would cheapen the brand.

“Si has never bought into it,” said a Condé source.[more]

In theory, leveraging venerable brand entities like Vogue, or even using licensing to partially resurrect the largely mourned Gourmet, may compensate for some of the damage done to balance sheets after the massive bloodletting Condé experienced last year when killing off Cookie, Domino, and Gourmet.

But herein lies the rub: Those same luxury publications (well, maybe not Gourmet) met their demise last year because their target audiences could no longer afford their contents.

So now consumers are expected to shell out money for products that are literally, in Vogue? To wit, one source cited in the Observer piece said, “DO WE REALLY need Vogue handbags? Gourmet kitchen mitts?”

Condé Nast employees speculated about more reasonable possibilities: Co-branded online sample sales in conjunction with their fashion properties, revised freelancer contracts, and deals that give Condé Nast a big fat cut for film rights, e-commerce deals, or Condé-endorsed conferences.

Yet the unsettled economy still has the future riddled with questions. Most importantly, this one: Would licensing Condé Nast properties be worth it?

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