Hearst’s Cathie Black: Teen Category Still Strong

A loss of support by advertisers, not readers, led to the demise of teen mag CosmoGirl!, Hearst Magazines president Cathie Black said.
Black made the unscripted comments while delivering a keynote speech at Media+Style, a WWD Media conference for the media and fashion industries. She said that it “broke my heart” to close CosmoGirl!, which put out its last issue in December. She maintained that the teen category is thriving, as evidenced by monthly newsstand sales of both CosmoGirl! and sibling title Seventeen. Still, she said, “The advertisers got very skittish.”
This year through its final December issue, third-place CosmoGirl!’s ad pages fell 14.7 percent to 630, declining more sharply than its rival titles, per the Mediaweek Monitor. The pub was one of several that have closed in recent months as the tightening economy has led print ad dollars to dry up.
“At the end of the day, I’m in this job to make tough positions, and we couldn’t see the light of CosmoGirl! coming out of a loss position,” Black said.
In her speech, she also expressed the need to be optimistic, despite the “terrible” business climate.
“A lot of our clients are just scared,” she said. “We hope they will lift their heads out of the water and go for share.”
At the same time, magazines will have to learn to do business differently in the current climate, Black said. Titles will need to get used to operating with leaner staffs, and the days of “sinking tens of tens of tens of tens of thousands of dollars into a new magazine launch are behind us,” she said.
But she also said there’s a bright future for strong magazine brands, pointing to the high newsstand volume of Hearst’s own Cosmopolitan.
“Nearly 2 million women plunk down four bucks every month and make a consumer decision,” she said.