general manager | OK!
In September, just about the time the seriousness of the U.S. recession was sinking in on Wall Street, Kent Brownridgeâ€” who less than two weeks before said that he was stepping down as CEO of Alpha Media to spend more time with his familyâ€”announced he had taken a job as the general manager of OK!.
Why Brownridge, a 68-year-old former Wenner Media executive, would take a celebrity magazine job in the teeth of a recession after edging toward retirement was a bit puzzling. But Brownridge sees a big upside in the 900,000-circulation OK!, which increased ad pages by 23 percent last year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
â€śWeâ€™re looking to grow in advertising categories that represent staple products for people during a recession,â€ť says Brownridge. â€śThe things that are mass-sold and mass-producedâ€”such as top-end luxury itemsâ€”are not useful in this economy.â€ť
These non-luxury categories, Brownridge says, include mass-market beauty, pharmaceutical, personal grooming, and entertainment (read: television).
For this, Brownridge is looking for â€śrather ambitious growthâ€ť in 2009. â€śYou might think Iâ€™m nuts for saying that, but weâ€™re coming off a relatively new magazine.â€ť
How he plans to accomplish this is through something Brownridge feels has gotten lost in a multi-platform world: straightforward selling. â€śThis is not some avant-garde idea,â€ť Brownridge says. â€śThis is power-selling. Our theory is not to spend a lot of time dickering on rates. We offer our best rate from the get-go. Not this back and forth. Itâ€™s a rather annoying and irritating process.â€ť
Instead, Brownridge hopes an increased volume of sales callsâ€”15 face-to-face calls per 12 salespersons per weekâ€”and a laser focus on key categories will make up for any business lost by the downturn. He has also dropped production charges for advertisers, with the idea that less â€śmade-up premiums,â€ť the easier itâ€™ll be to increase pages.
And donâ€™t expect any new product launchesâ€”especially Web-based quick-fixesâ€” from OK!. â€śAnyone who is talking about Web launches has probably given up the ghost, and has a bit of a pipe dream to save their business.â€ť
Where They Will Grow: In non-luxury advertising categories, like mass market beauty, pharmaceutical, personal grooming and television.
Where They Will Save: No new product launches in 2009.
Quote: â€śThis is not some avant-garde ideaâ€”this is power-selling.â€ť
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