The longest presidential campaign any of us can remember—with one of the most shocking outcomes, at least to the media—not only dominated our consciousness and conversation in 2016, it also had magazines producing some of their best work ever. New York magazine—which had a field day with Donald Trump, including its infamous cover of a particularly nasty-looking candidate with the word “LOSER” emblazoned across his face—takes Magazine of the Year in our annual Hot List, while The New Yorker—which also delivered numerous scoops, analysis and historic covers around the race for the White House—wins Hottest Thought Leader. Meanwhile, Time’s series of covers depicting Trump in a state of meltdown, were selected by our editors as Magazine Covers of the Year. Though special props go out to Rob Kardashian and his legion of social media followers for making his fiance Blac Chyna’s memorable turn on Paper magazine the winner of our Readers’ Choice Poll for best cover. Kardashian implored his fans to go to our site to vote for Chyna’s cover over those featuring his sisters—and vote they did.
New York is the magazine that never sleeps. From setting the pace in digital (26.8 million uniques across all its sites through September) to buzzworthy content that sweeps the National Magazine Awards to aggressive growth of video, ecommerce and branded content, the legendary biweekly continues, at nearly 50, to be as vibrant as the city it calls home. —Tony Case
Vanity Fair 11.3%
Hottest Thought Leader
The New Yorker
This campaign season, TNY stood out with memorable covers and a first-person account from Donald Trump’s ghostwriter. Web traffic surged. October was the site’s best month in history, with 22 million uniques, up 62 percent YOY. As of September, the brand saw its cross-platform audience rise nearly 43 percent YTD, making it the fastest-growing brand at Condé Nast. —Emma Bazilian
The New Yorker 18.7%
Vanity Fair 17.0%
Hottest Lifestyle Magazine
Town & Country
Under new editor Stellene Volandes, T&C is undergoing a renaissance as it marks its 170th birthday. Ad pages and revenue are up 13 percent YOY, thanks to a big October anniversary issue (its largest in more than a decade) and custom editorial units from the likes of Hermès and Tiffany & Co. Its web audience is up 60 percent through September. —E.B.
Southern Living 34.1%
Garden and Gun 25.3%
WSJ Magazine 11.7%
Hottest Food Magazine
Food & Wine
Time Inc.’s Food & Wine has emerged as America’s culinary tastemaker—with high-profile events (the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen), restaurants, branded products on Amazon and, of course, TV (Bravo’s Top Chef). Digital traffic is up 28 percent YOY while its social audience grew 169 percent. Facebook Live programming drew 2.5 million views this year. And new superstar editor Nilou Motamed has introduced scrumptious content. Happy cooking, and eating! —T.C.
Bon Appetit 42.8%
Food Network Magazine 38.7%
Food & Wine 6.6%
Hottest Travel Magazine
Travel + Leisure
Yes, Time Inc.’s T+L is stunningly beautiful—but it’s about so much more than just good looks, expanding into video, mobile apps, booking services and ecommerce. The results: Audience is up 21 percent YOY, averaging more than 10.5 million consumers—the largest following of any travel magazine. Online traffic is up 92 percent. If anything can persuade us to endure the horrors of modern travel, surely it’s T+L. —T.C.
Travel + Leisure 47.5%
Conde Nast Traveler 43.8%
Town & Country Travel 3.0%
Hottest Home Magazine
Condé Nast’s AD stays true to its claim as “the international design authority.” With No. 1 market share in the category, the first half of 2016 was AD’s strongest six months in print revenue since pre-recession—even with a 20 percent bump in cover price. Live events are on fire (AD Design Show, AD at Art Basel). And new EIC Amy Astley is rocking content. —E.B.
Southern Living 23.4%
Architectural Digest 9.4%
Hottest Fashion Magazine
With its hot art direction and photos, fashionistas fawn over Condé Nast’s oversized glossy. W has also seen its digital audience grow 75 percent, and digital revenue 161 percent. Total brand audience grew 41 percent, and the recent October issue was up 15 percent in print revenue YOY. —E.B.
Allure 24.6 %
Hottest Women’s Magazine
Hearst is keeping the 131-year-old Good Housekeeping fresh. Millennial readership grew 30 percent YOY—it has the fastest-growing 18-34 audience among all women’s titles. That’s because of initiatives like the Awesome Women Awards, created with Shonda Rhimes and Awestruck. Health/beauty and food are among hot ad categories. —E.B.
Good Housekeeping 7.7%
Hottest Health/Fitness Magazine—Women
This Rodale title boasts the largest footprint in the category; total audience is 18.9 million. It’s No. 1 in its category in print ad growth. A tie-in with Macy’s helped fight hunger, while a tracking tool let readers follow and share news about women’s health. And in an age of celebrity, October featured a reader on the cover for the first time ever. —T.C.
Women's Health 35.8%
Hottest Men’s Magazine
The Condé Nast title that put men’s style on the map is killing it across all media. Web revenue was up 47 percent. It boasts more monthly video views than any other mag. Its social footprint surpassed 8.7 million (100,000 new Instagram followers every month). It launched a print spinoff, GQ Style, whose companion website earned more than 500,000 uniques in its first month. —T.C.
Men's Journal 7.5%
Hottest Health/Fitness Magazine—Men
This Rodale fitness mag has plenty of muscle. Print and digital audience is 19.6 million (up 9.5 percent YOY). It claims more millennial readers than GQ, Esquire and Men’s Journal combined. Men’s Health lured 86 new advertisers in 2016, amounting to 203 print pages of new business through September. Social and video are also on fire. New EIC Matt Bean promises to keep pushing. —T.C.
Men's Health 57.5%
Men's Fitness 21.3%
Muscle & Fitness 8.9%
Hottest Auto Magazine
Car and Driver
Hearst’s auto brand is setting the pace. Through September, total audience grew 11 percent to 16.3 million. The site boasts 7.8 million uniques, the brand counts 2.2 million Facebook fans. And for the first time this year, the Hearst Men’s Group had a presence at the Detroit Auto Show, anchored by Car and Driver. —T.C.
Car and Driver 44.6%
Motor Trend 16.2%
Car Craft 10.9%
Hottest Sports Magazine
SI continues to innovate and grow cross-platform through high-profile partnerships and acquisitions. The Time Inc. book teamed with Fox Sports Digital on a digital network, with Twitter to livestream NFL games on SI.com, and with TNT on a live Swimsuit Issue cover reveal. —E.B.
Runner's World 22.9%
Sports Illustrated 18.8%
Hottest Celebrity Magazine
It has the second-largest cross-platform audience of any mag (80.1 million). It joined sibling brand Entertainment Weekly in launching Time Inc.’s first OTT network; debuted Instant, a social influencer video platform; and unveiled People Shop, an ecommerce initiative. It ended the year in controversy over a positive cover story on President-elect Trump in the wake of a People reporter’s sexual-assault charges. —E.B.
Life & Style 19.1%
Vanity Fair 10.0%
Hottest Business Magazine
Consumers pay up to $2,000 to connect with this award-winning business magazine and its community of experts and innovators at events like the FC Innovation Festival and Creative Counter-Conference—pushing event revenue this year up 42 percent. Partnerships with the likes of Samsung, Marriott and General Electric drove 83 percent growth in sponsorship revenue. —T.C.
Fast Company 16.7%
Hottest Kids/Teen Magazine
Last year, the Condé Nast title had a major overhaul, replacing founding editor Amy Astley with social media maven Elaine Welteroth, digital editorial director Phillip Picardi and creative director Marie Suter. The new digitally focused Teen Vogue is all about the modern mix, featuring social activists alongside Instagram-queen supermodels. In September, total audience grew more than 30 percent. —E.B.
Boys' Life 39.0%
Teen Vogue 11.5%
The Economist 1843
The style and culture offshoot of the authoritative news and current events weekly (its name refers to the year The Economist was launched) is a smart rethinking of the old Intelligent Life. It’s made an immediate splash with lush photos and the informed content that made its big brother a must-read. —T.C.
GQ Style 51.2%
Fit Pregnancy and Baby 18.7%
Gear Patrol 17.0%
Hottest Reborn Magazine
A head-to-toe revamp (sans nudity) has gained high-end advertisers and millennial readers, bringing new relevancy to the 63-year-old title. Content like deep-dive celebrity interviews, once a staple of the brand, are back in full force. —E.B.
Better Homes and Garden 12.1%
Hottest Magazine on Social Media
The first magazine chosen to participate in Snapchat’s Discover program, its channel on the platform attracts 6 million daily viewers. Cosmo boasts a total social media following of nearly 14 million. And it knows how to leverage that reach, too, by creating dedicated social content for advertisers. —E.B.
Bon Appetit 38.1%
Women's Health 33.7%
Hottest Magazine in Digital
Whether writing about hot topics like sex and politics, premiering the latest music video from rapper Gucci Mane or treating readers to the latest installment of its viral 73 Questions celebrity Q&A series, Vogue.com can be counted on to keep its finger on the pulse and attract plenty of in-the-know readers—there were more than 11.5 million uniques as of August, a 67 percent YOY increase. —E.B.
The New Yorker 10.6%
W never fails to surprise and delight readers with its out-of-the-box approach. Whether taking a chance on up-and-coming stars, making Rihanna nearly unrecognizable or embracing mature women (Barbra Streisand and Jane Fonda were on the cover), W editor Stefano Tonchi and his talented team can always be counted on to provide a refreshing alternative to newsstand monotony. —E.B.
Garden and Gun 47.0%
Conde Nast Traveler 15.0%
Bon Appetit 11.4%
Hottest Magazine Cover of the Year
Time: The Meltdown
For magazines, Donald Trump paid off handsomely in 2016—and for no one more than Time. First, the newsweekly commanded our attention with the cover of the Aug. 11 issue, which featured an illustration of the candidate’s withering visage and the cover line: “Meltdown.” (The week prior, Trump had called President Obama the founder of ISIS.) Then came the ingenious follow-up: Trump as nothing more than a puddle, accompanied by the line “Total Meltdown.” By the time the long, long presidential campaign was done, of course, Trump had the last laugh, and Time, like so many other media, was playing it straight (and safe) with a pedestrian cover sporting a beaming president-elect. Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted. —T.C.
Paper: Blac Chyna, "1000 Beautiful People" (September) 37.0%
Bon Appetit: "Eat Like a Local" (March) 10.1%
Harper's Bazaar: Kim and Kanye, "Fall Fashion" (September) 10.0%
Check out the rest of this year's Hot List honorees:
• Hottest Digital Brands and Products
• Media Visionary: Jeff Bezos
• Magazine Executive Team: Hearst's David Carey and Michael Clinton
• Magazine Editor: New York's Adam Moss
• Hottest TV Shows and Networks
• TV Executive: FX's John Landgraf
• TV Creator: Full Frontal's Samantha Bee
• TV News Anchor: Fox News' Megyn Kelly
• Digital Executive: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg
• Digital Creator: Casey Neistat
This story first appeared in the November 28, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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