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Meredith Loses Rainmaker, Axes 80

Martin Reidy led integrated marketing unit
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Meredith Corp. has lost a big rainmaker at the same time that it axed 80 people in the midst of declining magazine ad revenue. Martin Reidy, who led the hot B-to-B unit Meredith Integrated Marketing (recently renamed Meredith Xcelerated Marketing), was hired in 2009 by then-National Media Group president Jack Griffin from Publicis Modem to help turn the company into a full-service marketing services provider.

MXM at one time represented some 20 percent of revenue for the Meredith National Media Group and has counted Chrysler, Kraft and Wells Fargo among its clients. Like the rest of media, MXM faces a challenging ad market, though. The company announced its quarterly financial results today and reported that in the first three months of 2012, so-called "other revenue" in its National Media Group was down to $68 million versus $80 million in the year-ago period, due primarily to MXM clients scaling back programs in response to the economy.

Insiders said Reidy’s departure was unrelated to the cuts being made this week, however. They said he tired of the constant acquisition-related travel and that he wanted to have more time at home. Reidy couldn't be reached for comment, and it wasn’t known whether he had another job lined up. A Meredith rep said David Brown, the group’s evp and gm, would assume many of Reidy’s responsibilities going forward.

The layoffs, coming as the Des Moines, Iowa-based publisher and broadcaster nears the end of its fiscal year in June, came as a shock internally. Publicly, Meredith seemingly had a strong growth story, snapping up Allrecipes.com, Every Day With Rachael Ray and FamilyFun in the past year. All told, the deals have added some 350 positions to the company and helped lift ad and circulation revenue in the Media Group, which publishes mass women’s brands like Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle.

But the long-awaited ad turnaround hasn't come for the magazine industry, Meredith included. In the first three months of the year, overall industry ad pages declined 8.2 percent, per PIB.

At the Media Group, excluding the acquisitions, ad revenue fell 7 percent on weakness in prescription drug and retail categories in the three months ended March 31, the company revealed today in its quarterly financial report. Circulation revenue rose just 2 percent. In line with that softness, the bulk of the cuts—about 60 of the 80 positions—are in the National Media Group.