For Condé Nast, Is Devil in the ‘Details’?

NEW YORK When Condé Nast made the bombshell disclosure that it would fold four magazines, the big question on many minds was: What about Details?

Details had been on observers’ shortlist for closure for some time, so it was widely speculated that Condé Nast would fold it and hold on to GQ, in keeping with the company’s moves to pare down its shelter, bridal and epicurean books to one per category.

“It’s one of the weakest links in the company,” one former insider said of Details. “Now you have one food book, one shelter book, then all the slicing and dicing of the women’s books. But you still have two men’s magazines. And there’s overlap in lots of ways — fashion sensibility, good writers.”

After a strategic review by McKinsey & Co., Condé Nast said on Oct. 5 it would close Gourmet, Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride, cut costs and enact further layoffs, although Condé Nast chief exec Chuck Townsend has repeatedly said this week that the company was done with magazine closings.
Now, Details is getting a fresh start. In the wake of the closings news, Condé Nast removed Steve DeLuca as its publisher. Bill Wackermann will add Details to his oversight, which already includes Glamour and Brides. Lucy Kriz, Details’ associate publisher, will report to him.

Details, which has gone through a number of iterations over the years, is a smaller, edgier, younger-skewing companion to GQ. Its audience is only 1.3 million to GQ’s 6.4 million and its median household income is slightly higher ($82,063 to GQ’s $78,800). Both have a median reader age of about 35.

“GQ could have absorbed the rate base and grown bigger and charged advertisers more,” one veteran men’s magazine publisher said. While Details is “very gay, very urban,” the exec said, “GQ is a little more mainstream. It resonates more with men in Ohio, which makes it a more solid circulation.”

That difference in positioning could be enough to attract a different set of advertisers, and small as Details is, it has little in the way of a direct competitor. That could explain why Condé Nast decided to stick with it, observers said, despite its ad pages being down 36 percent this year through October, per the Mediaweek Monitor.

While it may not be a huge revenue contributor to the company, Details also probably has relatively low production costs and may be able to leverage GQ’s resources.

“It surprised me because it is such a niche audience,” Brenda White, senior vp, publishing activation director, Starcom USA, said of Details. “But for men, they really have GQ and Details. They’re really not directly competing with one another.”

Nielsen Business Media