Monday, March 23, 2009

Condé Nast Tightens Its Belt

As I arrived at my desk this morning, I slowly opened up my Coke Zero (had to be careful that it didn't explode, because I had dropped it minutes earlier) and took out my Balance bar for my scrumptious, executive breakfast. Then I poured out a small handful of mixed nuts, but a couple rolled onto the floor. I looked around for the button to summon an underling -- a butler, maid, vice president of editorial peanut cleanup, anything -- until I remembered there was no such thing. Sighing, I reached down and picked up the nuts myself.

Such is the life of an editorial director at a major nonprofit. A subway ride to work, bring my own lunch, perform editing and writing and planning and managing chores, write blogs, take meetings, and pick up my own breakfast off the floor.

I'm sure Anna Wintour feels my pain.
But word has it that Condé Nast is reportedly cutting back on its famed perks for the editors of its magazines, as it reacts to a severe downturn in the luxury goods advertising market. Keith J. Kelly writes in today's New York Post that there have already been cutbacks in lunch expenses, tuition reimbursement, and pension contributions. And worse may yet come at a company where top publishers and editors get to zoom around town in their company-provided towncars.

The publisher of Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, and a slew of others is being hit even harder by the recession than many other publishers. Those $5,000 wristwatches apparently can be advertised in other magazines for less money, which makes the Swiss happy as they keep a tight fist on their Swiss francs. (Yes, that was a stretch, but you get the point.)

Condé Nast is famous (and envied) in the magazine world for not discounting off its rate card. I won't pretend to know enough about this successful company's history or business plan, nor do I think I am an expert on the luxury goods market (my watch is a $55 Skagen bought on Amazon.com), to qualify me as being able to predict their next move. But I will be interested to learn who has the most pull when it comes to seriously depleted budgets: Advertisers with tempting wallets, or spoiled editors with high expenses.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go check my 401(k) to see if I'll be able to retire before I'm 90.
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