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OK!: Brownridge’s Dramatic Departure Not Based on ‘Strategic Error’

Report: Despite losses, U.S. edition of OK! to ‘fight on.’


Jason Fell By Jason Fell
02/10/2009 -07:27 AM






Kent Brownridge’s tenure as general manager of the U.S. edition of OK! was as tumultuous as it was short-lived. Not long after joining the celebrity weekly, Brownridge [pictured] fired publisher Tom Morrissy, hired a new head of public relations and named former Quick & Simple editor Susan Toepfer to replace founding editor Sarah Ivens, who announced she was leaving the magazine.

But OK! endured the same economic downturn that punished the entire magazine industry, and London-based publisher Northern & Shell last month decided to cut its losses and ousted Brownridge (as well as Toepfer) after only four months on the job.

In Brownridge’s defense, Northern & Shell group editorial director and board member Paul Ashford recently told England’s Guardian newspaper that his departure wasn’t related to any strategic error he made. An unnamed “insider” told the paper Brownridge joined OK! at the worst possible time. “We became more and more reluctant to hand over 100 percent control of management, and in the end decided the [Northern & Shell founder Richard] Desmond way, running it from London, was best."

In the report, Ashford said new publisher Lori Burgess (one the few Brownridge hires who remain) managed to increase advertising sales in January 30 percent over the same month last year. Ashford said the magazine has no plans of shutting down.

“[Desmond’s] happy with what he's done,” Ashford told the paper. “So we fight on."

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