Condé Faces More Cuts

Company facing print ad pinch

Condé Nast is asking its publishers to cut 5 percent from their budgets as the weak ad market is expected to bleed into the second half and beyond, company sources tell Adweek.

A handful of brands including Golf Digest and Teen Vogue cut staff last week, although it’s not clear if those cuts were part of this mandate.

In any case, the publisher of Vogue and Vanity Fair is in the midst of its 2013 budgeting process, and it can’t be happy about what it’s seeing. Magazine industry ad pages fell 8.8 percent in the first half of 2012 versus the year-ago period. Newsstand sales were off 9.6 percent (with some Condé Nast titles reporting double-digit declines), and some titles' ad sales are weak going into the final months of the year. "I don't think anyone's killing it in fourth quarter," said one company source.

Earlier this summer, the Condé Nast Media Group let go 12 in the corporate sales unit in a restructuring, and publishers at the company were told to prepare to cut their budgets 10 percent for the rest of the year. 

Overall, the mood has been tense. The company is “psychotic” about sticking to budgets, one source inside 4 Times Square said. “They’re being more fiscally responsible,” said another. This wasn’t always the case, of course.

A company spokeswoman wouldn't confirm financial details at the privately held company, but said this: “As part of the 2013 planning process, all of our business leaders are evaluating their budgets to ensure that they are operating efficiently.  Given the current economy, it is important that we effectively manage our short-term business goals so that we can continue to invest in our long-term growth objectives.”

Condé Nast isn’t alone in feeling the pinch. Better Homes and Gardens publisher Meredith Corp. trimmed 80 positions earlier this year after some of its bread-and-butter ad categories saw declines. Layoffs have also hit Sports Illustrated, Maxim and Spin.