Vanity Fair

Forcing Journalists to Be Flacks
March 1, 2015

Condé Nast is America's premier upmarket magazine publisher. Included in its distinguished stable are many legendary publications. Condé journalists are among the most skilled in the world.

The Yahoo Dossier
October 7, 2014

How does a publisher monetize 800,000 freeloaders—without resorting to advertising or list rental? Quite simply, I went through my private business and marketing archives (plus Google) searching out publishers who out of necessity turned themselves into marketers. I looked at what others had done to 1) monetize their existing material and 2) come up with line extensions—relevant new products and services that should delight their existing readers.

Desperately Seeking Dynamic Editors
May 20, 2014

In April 2014, Meredith Corporation announced the folding of Ladies Home Journal, the 130-year-old monthly magazine. In its place will be an online quarterly version with 35 fewer staff members and moved from New York to Meredith headquarters in Des Moines. This is in order to "keep the magazine's brand alive." In the 1970s and 1980, I created circulation packages for a number of women entrepreneurs who started competing magazines.

See? Data Can Be Sexy. Using Data to Reinvent the Bra.
October 24, 2013

"If the 'Made of Stars' bra fell under a Netflix-esque, uber-specific category tag, it might read 'Bras for the Bustier Woman Who Fears Bulges.,' " says Michelle Lam, cofounder of True & Co. True & Co. used a Netflix model of Big Data mining to create a new bra line. Does this finally mean perfect undergarments for all? … There’s nothing sexy about big data. Then again, for anyone who has ever spent time in a lingerie dressing room, there’s nothing sexy about bra shopping. That very experience of letting a stranger feel you up before spending hours half-naked trying

For Shoppers, Augmented Reality to be Next Level of Instant Gratification
October 9, 2013

A wave of experiments at various companies could take consumer convenience (and impulsiveness) to new heights. ...  On Tuesday, MasterCard plans to announce a partnership with Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, Wired, Vanity Fair and other popular magazines, that will allow digital readers to instantly buy items described in an article or showcased in an advertisement by tapping a shopping cart icon on the page. The partnership, called ShopThis, will begin in the November tablet edition of Wired, due on Oct. 15

If You Have to Ask, You're Too Stupid to Own One
May 1, 2013

Did you hear the story of the rich yuppie whose Porsche was sideswiped and totaled on a narrow bridge? His elbow had been protruding out the window, and the crash tore his left arm off and it flew into the bay below.

Why Have a Website?
April 17, 2012

I work every day. Compulsively. Being a political junkie, I'll take a break Sunday morning if any of the talk shows have interesting guests. What I want is a quick, down-'n'-dirty schedule: 1) Name of the show; 2) who are the guests; 3) the panel of babble-heads. With that information, I can make a view/no-view decision in 20 seconds.

Advertising Goes High-Tech
November 10, 2009

Of the eight key copy drivers—the emotional hot buttons that make people act—the most mysterious is exclusivity.

I never really understood exclusivity until Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme put a spotlight on it. As Laurence Leamer wrote in The Huffington Post:

It was an honor having him handle your fortune. He didn't take just anybody. He turned down all kinds of people, and that made you want to give the man even more of your money. When he took your fortune, he told you that he would tell you nothing about how he achieved his returns. He was a god. He had the Midas touch.

Web sites have been built on this exclusivity thing. Among them:, and They offer to “members only” the same upmarket designer merchandise sold by Saks, but at deeply discounted sale prices during specific time periods.

Saks is fighting back with an exclusive online “private event” that the CEO of calls “the new way of retail.”

It ain’t new.

Saks is engaging in a technique as old as the hills. It’s called good, ol'-fashioned, time-tested, accountable direct marketing.

‘The New Yorker’ vs. the Obamas
July 22, 2008

I’ve written a number of times that one way to deal harshly with unfriendly media is to deny access: Issue no press credentials. Force them to stand with their noses to the window pane and regurgitate the same AP or Reuters stories that all the other cheapskate newspapers and magazines use. That the Obama campaign has denied access to The New Yorker is delicious. I have 104 days to make up my mind, and I’m still not sure about Barack Obama or John McCain. Will this be yet another presidential election where I go into a voting booth holding my nose and pulling the

Two Industries That Dis Paying Customers
July 17, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, I read that the final article by David Halberstam, who was killed in an automobile crash outside San Francisco on April 23, was available on the Vanity Fair Web site. As a long-time customer and admirer of Halberstam’s work, I wanted to read it. I found “The History Boys” and downloaded it for free. It was scheduled to appear in the August 2007 Vanity Fair and I—a nonsubscriber to the magazine—was able to access it long before it arrived on newsstands or in the mailboxes of paying subscribers. That meant I—a Web junkie—could discuss it at a dinner