In jumping to Conde Nast’s Lucky magazine from Yahoo, Brandon Holley is reversing the course that many former print journalists have taken, herself included.
After a longstanding magazine career, Holley was hired by Yahoo in 2007 to grow its female audience. Previously, she had been editor of Jane, an irreverent fashion magazine aimed at young women; that job ended that summer when Condé Nast folded it. Earlier, she had editing stints at Elle Girl and GQ.
In recent years, many print executives have established new careers in digital media, following audience and revenue growth to the online medium.
But Holley said she didn’t see her move to Lucky, where her predecessor and launch editor Kim France is leaving the company, as a return to print.
“I’m returning to a publishing company that’s doing print and digital,” she said. “Print is always going to be important, but I think what’s interesting is how they’ve been developing their titles in the digital space.”
Her move comes in the wake of Condé Nast’s newly declared focus on growing its consumer- and technology-driven business.
Holley said she plans to take what she learned at Yahoo about women’s social interaction online and use it to pump up Lucky’s Web site.
“I want to bring women to the online experience,” she said. “I’ve had fun in seeing how women interact differently in the digital space and how technology allows them to connect in different ways. And there’s also something really exciting in fashion now. It’s become a realm where women share a lot. Lucky, more than any other magazine, can play in that intersection. And using that to inform the print is exciting.”
Tom Wallace, editorial director of Condé Nast, said Holley’s digital experience was key to her selection as editor of Lucky. He said he expected that under Holley, the magazine would be quick to launch a number of new digital initiatives.
“She knows as much as anyone about building a successful business on the Web, and we think she’ll be able to draw on that experience to enrich Lucky on multiple platforms,” he said. “Lucky’s focus on shopping makes [it] a natural for various forms of social expression. All of those things are her strong suit.”
Lucky had plenty of detractors when it launched a decade ago to criticism that it was little more than a shopping catalogue. Those naysayers were proved wrong when Lucky quickly soared in ad pages and circulation, earning it the distinction of Adweek’s Startup of the Year in 2002.
But its newsstand sales have faltered lately. In the first half of 2010, single-copy sales—which make up a percent of overall circulation but which ad buyers consider an important barometer of consumer wantedness—declined 16.8 percent to 165,179 on a total circ of 1.1 million.
Condé Nast didn’t make France available for interviews but provided the following statement: “I am exceptionally grateful to Condé Nast and [Condé parent Advance’s chairman] Si Newhouse for what has been a tremendous opportunity, and something I will remember with only fondness.”