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May 23, 2019

Publishing News

Jay Fielden Out as Editor of Esquire
WWD: "Jay Fielden is the latest magazine veteran to exit Hearst Magazines.The editor in chief of Esquire, the core men’s title at Hearst, is leaving the role almost immediately, WWD has learned, only remaining to oversee the complete rollout of the just revealed June issue.There have been murmurs of changes at Esquire and its operations since last year, when new Hearst Magazines president Troy Young started his overhaul. Talk turned to the imminent departure of Fielden in the wake of the publicized late-stage rejection by the publisher of an investigative story on sexual misconduct allegations against the director Bryan Singer that Esquire was initially set to publish. The chatter was renewed after some public blowback for a cover story on a white, politically conservative teen. Nevertheless, Fielden’s exit is said to be mutual, insofar as both sides are said to have issues with the other. He is possibly going to serve as a contributor to the title going forward... Fielden, in an Instagram statement that he posted after WWD broke the news of his exit, said he will miss “the conversation and debate, the collaboration, the shared life of revisions and deadlines and filling the monthly void.” But he alluded to upcoming projects, like a book he’s started and possibly something media-related of his own. “I have… felt the lure of new possibilities — all the more so now, as the means of production for a new media venture is basically my laptop,” he wrote. “For me, the time has simply come to press on in a new direction, perhaps more than one, before I get struck by male pattern baldness.” In addition to his role leading Esquire, Fielden is the editorial director of Town & Country, a position he will also be leaving. He served as editor in chief of T&C beginning in 2011 and took up Esquire in 2016, when the magazine division was still run by David Carey... In a statement, a spokeswoman for Hearst wrote that Fielden is “an incredibly talented editor and writer” and confirmed that he will contribute to Esquire and T&C.“We thank him for his leadership and contributions to Hearst Magazines over the years and wish him the best in his future plans.”As for Fielden’s successor, there isn’t one in place. Hearst is said to be in the process of vetting candidates. One name said to be in consideration is Richard Dorment, the current editor in chief of Men’s Health, who assumed that role only last year after a stint as senior editor of Wired, a Conde publication. Earlier Dormant had spent nearly a decade as an editor at Esquire under Granger, with his exit timed to Fielden’s takeover. Another possibility is said to be Greg Veis, who currently leads the Highline vertical at Huffington Post... GQ, Esquire’s rival in the men’s space, has started to skew much younger and with a focus on high and street fashion, complete with a full-blown e-commerce piece (something Esquire has apparently resisted, despite Hearst’s big push into the space)… With a focus by Young, and Hearst’s chief content officer Kate Lewis, on leveraging data insights (i.e., what gets traffic) for editorial direction and changes, Esquire could soon be getting a youthful, fashion-forward makeover of its own."
NY Post 

Fortune Digital Staffers Win Unionization With Forced Vote
WWD: "Fortune’s newsroom is now entirely unionized.Despite efforts by the magazine’s management to derail the union, including an immediate rejection of voluntary recognition and direct efforts by chief executive officer Alan Murray, a wide majority of digital staffers at the former Time Inc. title have again decided to join the NewsGuild. A forced vote by management and overseen by the National Labor Union Relations Board showed 87% of staff in favor of unionization, leaving no avenue but to begin talks with staffers and NewsGuild around a union contract.“We look forward to joining the 41% of the staff already represented by the existing union agreement and working with management to agree on a contract that covers all editorial workers equally,” union members wrote in a statement. A Fortune representative could not be immediately reached for comment.Staffers went public with their organization efforts in late March, saying an “overwhelming majority” of Fortune’s 27-person online editorial staff had signed cards in support of unionization. Although 27 people may not sound like a large group, it actually makes up about 60 percent of Fortune’s editorial staff. With such support, group leaders claimed “surprise” at management’s rejection of their effort. The print side of the magazine has been unionized for decades, with a bargaining contract still in place that was negotiated with management then under Time Inc"...

Conde Launches Program for Performance Marketers
Digiday: "Condé Nast has long boasted that advertisers that use Spire, the publisher’s data and ad targeting platform, get better bang for their buck. Now it’s guaranteeing that performance for any advertiser willing to spend the right amount.On Thursday, the legacy publisher announced the launch of Prime Web, an advertising program that offers a suite of video and commerce-enabled ad units distributed across Condé Nast’s portfolio using Spire, which requires a minimum spend of $20,000. Those ads, which Condé builds for advertisers, can feature videos or links to multiple products that drive users directly to advertisers’ storefronts. Advertisers willing to spend a little more — typically $250,000, though that figure is negotiable — will get Condé Nast’s guarantee of business results in key performance metrics ranging from store visits to increased sales, said Evan Adlman, Condé Nast’s svp of enterprise sales. If one of those high-priced campaigns doesn’t deliver, Condé will give the advertiser free impressions to make up the difference, Adlman said.“It’s a pretty low barrier to entry,” Adlman added. “But we feel so strongly about the product, the units, as well as our ability to drive performance. The number one thing advertisers want is performance. We want to make sure we can open this up.” As Google, Facebook and Amazon continue to dominate digital advertising — the three companies will claim around 70 percent of all U.S. digital ad revenue in 2019, according to eMarketer — publishers are trying to prove that they can drive business outcomes for marketers. Some, such as Hearst, have done that by spinning up data studios that can help advertisers identify new audience segments to target, or giving those advertisers more data about what its audiences think about advertisers’ products.More broadly, the need to prove return on investment has forced publishers to spend more money on pricey attribution studies or forge more partnerships with measurement firms including Nielsen Catalina or Placed. While there has not been an uptick in advertisers insisting on guaranteed results in RFPs, performance advertising is more popular than ever before, said Todd Krizelman, founder of MediaRadar. For the past year and a half, Condé Nast has had a measurement partnership with Nielsen Catalina Solutions, though the impact of Prime Web ads can be measured by almost any third-party measurement vendor, Adlman said.Being able to deliver clear attribution will make a big difference in the success or failure of Prime Web. “It sounds like they’re setting themselves up for success if they’re going to be fully transparent,” said Michael Dobson, the head of marketplace at the media agency Cross Media, which hasn’t yet gotten Prime Web’s pitch. In the early going, Dobson said, he expects that Prime Web will resonate most with advertisers already spending with Condé Nast in other sectors, particularly print"...

Vanity Fair Offers Dual 'Star Wars' Covers
Showbiz411 reports that the next issue of Vanity Fair will have two covers featuring stars from the new "Str Wars" movie: Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley. Article opines that, following this month's cover feature Nicole Kidman, VF editor Radhika Jones appears to be pulling back from an emphasis on diversity in cover choices. It adds that the magazine's recent pool party at Cannes was literally dampened by a drenching rain.

Guardian U.S. Launches 'Toxic America' Series, Fundraiser
InPublishing: "From pesticides in produce to toxic dyes in cosmetics, Americans are routinely exposed to dangerous chemicals that have long been banned in countries such as the UK, Germany and France. Of the 40,000 chemicals used in consumer products in the US, according to the EPA, only one percent have been rigorously tested for human safety.The series launch package features an in-depth look at the 1,300 chemicals used in US cosmetics that are banned in the EU; an explainer on the toxic threat in everyday products; and, after taking tests for more than 1,500 chemicals, Guardian environment writer Emily Holden’s reports on the synthetic chemicals in her body... The Guardian US is asking its readers to help raise $150,000 to increase its coverage of the toxic chemicals in the environment for the rest of 2019. This follows successful fundraising campaigns "This Land is Your Land, Break the Cycle" and "The Mother Load." Toxic America will include articles videos, opinion pieces, and visual stories offering practical advice on navigating possible toxic threats in the home and the food and water people consume, as well as looking into deeper questions of how we got here, who is responsible, and what the solutions are"...

Subscription Fatigue Hasn't Set In As Yet
TechCrunch: "U.S. consumers are still embracing subscriptions. More than a third (34%) of Americans say they believe they’ll increase the number of subscription services they use over the next two years, according to a new report from eMarketer. This is following an increase to three subscription services on average, up from 2.4 services five years ago.The report cited data from subscription platform Zuora and The Harris Poll in making these determinations.The study also debunks the idea that we’ve reached a point of subscription fatigue. While only a third is planning to increase the number of subscriptions — a figure that’s in line with the worldwide average — the larger majority of U.S. internet users said they plan to use the same number of subscriptions services within two years as they do now.In other words, they’re not paring down their subscriptions just yet — in fact, only 7% said they planned to subscribe to fewer services in the two years ahead. However, that’s both good news and bad news for the overall subscription industry. On the one hand, it means there’s a healthy base of potential subscribers for new services. But it also means that many people may only adopt a new subscription by dropping another — perhaps to maintain their current budget.Subscriptions, after all, may still feel like luxuries. No one needs Netflix, Spotify, groceries delivered to their home or curated clothing selections sent by mail, for example. There are non-subscription alternatives that are much more affordable. The question is which luxuries are worth the recurring bill?The survey, however, did not define subscription services, which could include news and magazine subscriptions, digital streaming services, subscription box services and more. But it did ask about consumers’ interest in the various categories. More than half of U.S. consumers (57%) said they were interested in TV and video-on-demand services (like Netflix) and 38% were interested in music services... The next most popular subscriptions in the survey were grocery delivery like AmazonFresh (32%) and meal delivery like Blue Apron (21%). Software and storage services like iCloud and subscription beauty services like Ipsy followed, each with 17%.Consumers were less interested in subscription news and information and subscription boxes — the latter only saw 10% interest, in fact.The figures should be taken with a grain of salt, of course. The meal kit market is actually struggling. The consulting firm NPD Group estimated that only 4% of U.S. consumers have even tried them. So there’s a big disconnect between what consumers say they’re interested in and what they actually do"...


Retail News

BJ's Aims to Improve Assortments, Digital Capabilities
SN: "BJ’s Wholesale Club saw sales edge up in its fiscal 2019 first quarter and topped Wall Street’s earnings-per-share forecast by two cents. For the quarter ended May 4, BJ’s totaled revenue of $3.14B, up 2.7% from $3.06B a year earlier. Net sales rose 2.5% to $3.07B from $2.99B, while membership fee income surged 8% to $73.4M from nearly $68M. Comp-store sales grew 2% year over year. Merchandise comparable sales, which excludes fuel, were up 1.9%. Operating income came in at $70.7M for the quarter, an increase of 9.5% versus a year ago... “For the quarter, we saw merchandise sales of 1.9%, representing a 3.9% two-year stacked comp," said chairman and CEO Christopher Baldwin. "Sales were affected by the timing shift of SNAP government assistance benefits, which we discussed last quarter. Without the shift, our comp sales would have been above the high end of our full-year guidance range, which is 1.5% to 2.5%.” The accelerated SNAP benefits particularly impacted perishables, namely stock-up segments like frozen, CFO Robert Eddy said in the call. Perishables, which had a 1% comp-sales decrease in the quarter, make up about half of a typical EBT basket, he noted. “In our edible and nonedible grocery divisions, comps were 1% for the quarter. Excluding the EBT shift, edible grocery comps would have been closer to our recent full-year performance,” according to Eddy. In grocery, BJ’s is working to simplify assortments, add new offerings and improve presentation to highlight value, the executives said... At the bottom line, BJ’s posted 2019 first-quarter net income of $35.8M, or 25 cents per diluted share, vs. $14.1M, or 15 cents per diluted share, in the prior-year period, which included costs related to the company’s initial public offering. On an adjusted basis, net earnings were $36.7M, or 26 cents per diluted share, for the 2019 quarter and $28.1M, or 20 cents per diluted share, for the 2018 quarter, BJ’s said"...

Amazon Working on Device to Read Human Emotions
Bloomberg: " Inc. is developing a voice-activated wearable device that can recognize human emotions.The wrist-worn gadget is described as a health and wellness product in internal documents reviewed by Bloomberg. It’s a collaboration between Lab126, the hardware development group behind Amazon’s Fire phone and Echo smart speaker, and the Alexa voice software team.Designed to work with a smartphone app, the device has microphones paired with software that can discern the wearer’s emotional state from the sound of his or her voice, according to the documents and a person familiar with the program. Eventually the technology could be able to advise the wearer how to interact more effectively with others, the documents show. It’s unclear how far along the project is, or if it will ever become a commercial device"...

H-E-B Doubling Down on Investing in People
Dallas News: "As many companies replace employees with technology, San Antonio-based grocer H-E-B is taking a different tack. Its president, Craig Boyan, says it's investing in tech — but also doubling down on people. The company considers people its "key differentiator," Boyan said, even as it's under price pressure from Amazon and Walmart. It has added about 40,000 employees in the last decade, raising its workforce to 116,000.“We believe the main thing we need to do is invest in people — and better people," he said.Boyan spoke Wednesday at a two-day conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas about technology-enabled disruption... [He] argued that companies' use of technology should be focused on creating jobs and making their customers' and employees' lives better — rather than simply squeezing out more money for shareholders. And Boyan said he's troubled by how venture capitalists and other investors are giving huge sums of money to tech companies that are putting retailers out of business and thousands of people out of work — even though they have no viable business plan. "We have unicorns going public that will probably never make money, wiping out jobs for your grandkids," he said. "That is a huge problem"...He also said economists and antitrust regulators need to rethink how to check the power of big tech companies. He called on companies to use tech in a way that values employees."We need to focus on investing in labor vs. dividends and [stock] buybacks," he said"...

Albertsons Reinvents Its Signature Select Store Brands
PG: "Albertsons Cos. is updating its Signature Select brand and adding more than 300 items to the program this year. Signature Select's new branding, for its more than 2,400 items, will include an upgrade to its trademark tag logo that will remain consistent on products throughout the store but allow flexibility with the different packaging. “With a brand that extends across many diverse categories throughout our stores, we needed to create a design system with a recognizable brand presence that also allows for individuality across categories,” said Bill Luna, Albertsons' director of brand design and packaging operations. “The Signature tag provides an iconic and consistent brandmark that sits naturally on distinctive designs and reflects the unique qualities of each product in each category.”Additional items will also be added throughout the year to the entire Signature family of brands, which, beside Signature Select, consists of Signature Cafe prepared meals and sides, Signature Farms meats and produce, Signature Reserve unique products, and Signature Care personal items"...


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