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 familyâannounced 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.
âWeâre looking to grow in advertising categories that represent staple products for people during a recession,â says Brownridge. âThe things that are mass-sold and mass-producedâsuch as top-end luxury itemsâare not useful in this economy.â
These non-luxury categories, Brownridge says, include mass-market beauty, pharmaceutical, personal grooming, and entertainment (read: television).
For this, Brownridge is looking for ârather ambitious growthâ in 2009. âYou might think Iâm nuts for saying that, but weâre coming off a relatively new magazine.â
How he plans to accomplish this is through something Brownridge feels has gotten lost in a multi-platform world: straightforward selling. âThis is not some avant-garde idea,â Brownridge says. âThis 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. Itâs a rather annoying and irritating process.â
Instead, Brownridge hopes an increased volume of sales callsâ15 face-to-face calls per 12 salespersons per weekâand 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 âmade-up premiums,â the easier itâll be to increase pages.
And donât expect any new product launchesâespecially Web-based quick-fixesâ from OK!. âAnyone 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
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: âThis is not some avant-garde ideaâthis is power-selling.â
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