From a Competitor, a Criticism About Gourmet
I read with bemusement your special report on the “research” initiated by Gourmet in conjunction with Y&R’s Brand Futures Group [Consumer Magazines, March 6].
In an attempt to sell its positioning as the magazine for “the New Gourmets,” Gourmet is conducting interviews with 30 prescreened subscribers, subjects the magazine has already determined to be young, affluent, wine-drinking, travel-savvy and restaurant-going. The results, utterly projectable though they’ll be, will doubtless be used as fodder for continued press efforts and advertising slogans to further Gourmet’s campaign to claim this dramatically different brand personality.
The problem? Saying it doesn’t make it so. For 59 years, Gourmet has pitched itself as “the magazine of good living” and, upon recognizing that its static definition of that lifestyle needed updating, hired a new editor-in-chief and co-opted a position owned by a competitor.
So, these consumers in question–the New Gourmets–can wait while Gourmet tries to morph itself from their parents’ magazine of choice into the timely, accessible and broadly appealing title Ruth Reichl talks about (kind of like trying to turn the QE2 mid-Atlantic). Or they can continue to read the magazine that doesn’t need to play catch up because it already is the modern, stylish, trend-oriented and accessible lifestyle title in the field–it’s called Food & Wine.
Julie McGowan
Vice president, publisher
Food & Wine Magazine, New York

The Personal Touch Makes Fast Company a Winner
Ienjoyed your article on Fast Company and its editor, Alan Webber [Consumer Magazines, March 6]. As you note, there are many reasons for the tremendous success of not just the magazine but the brand.
I’d like to add another worth considering: I attended a Company of Friends meeting and was floored by some of the positive comments the group made. I e-mailed the magazine about how fervent everyone seemed to be and how energizing it was. The next day, Alan Webber sent me a genuine, appreciative e-mail thanking me for letting him know what went on at this meeting, even though my e-mail wasn’t directed to him.
That’s top-down, one-to-one marketing, and I think it’s that authentic, visionary attitude that
has contributed to making Fast Company such an exemplary brand.
Jann Sabin
Creative Department USA
Hollywood, Fla.