Here's what worries me. Will Condé-Nast also take down Epicurious as a result of dropping Gourmet into the dispose-all? I'm not the only one worried. Just googled "what happens to epicurious now that gourmet is closing" and found two readers of the NY Times blog, Media Decoder, asking the same thing (see Chiara G's and Katherine's comments). Cooks know what I'm talking about: how do we survive if we can't look up recipes that we've made for a zillion years? This just in: CNN.com is reporting that the treasure trove of great recipes will remain up.
Media watchers knew that McKinsey was waving its steel over Condé-Nast's publications (if you're reading here, you most likely read or sub to one of them, everything from The New Yorker to Wired) but no one predicted that Gourmet would be de-boned completely. As recently as last week, The Times was predicting 25% cuts at the Condé-Nast pubs.
However, a recent publication from McKinsey quotes John Quelch, a Harvard Business School professor on the value of increased advertising in a downturn: "'Companies that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.'" Naturally, McK has a model for this: "For each targeted group of customers, it measures 'Reach' (the number of customer contacts), 'Cost' (cost per contact or per thousand contacts), and 'Quality' (the contact quality of the channel or medium). Managers who have optimized their marketing mix using the RCQ model have seen advertising effectiveness increase by up to 15 percent."
Not the algorithm Gourmet managed to employ. Ad revenues fell 50% in the downturn. So the writing should have been on the wall but who looks at the wall when the next issue is on its way out?
I suppose McKinsey made a lot of money on this consulting contract, which brings me to my final thought for the moment: the hallowed consulting firm used to be known most for its strategy work, helping companies navigate rough waters. Cost-watching is of course a fundamental part of any good strategy but is that all? And, is The New Yorker next on the list?