Meredith Prez—On Crutches—Explains Why Their ‘Whitebread’ Titles Had to Change
Des Moines publisher grapples with the 'Anti-Leave it to Beaver America.'
Meredith president Jack Griffin is tough. He showed up at the FOLIO: Publishing Summit in Miami to deliver his keynote this morning on crutches following emergency surgery on a broken leg he suffered a year ago, having lost his cellphone somewhere between LaGuardia and the Doral. And, like a seasoned prize fighter, he landed some key jabs on the state of the magazine business, through the lens of a Des Moines, Iowa publisher Griffin said was “founded on the social construct of Dad at work, Mom at home, Chevy in the driveway.”
The company was “founded on the social construct of Dad at work, Mom at home, Chevy in the driveway.” Which looks nothing like America in 2008, particularly in its ethnic makeup. For a company that publishes “white-bread” magazines, he said, “the change has been quite provocative.”
How provocative? Since 2002, they’ve spent roughly $600 million on launches (print and Web) and acquisitions, cobbled together an nice interactive marketing business. And despite some big successes (Griffin said Better Homes and Gardens had its best year ever in 2007), it’s not all grits and gravy. In November, Meredith’s stock price was at $63 per share. Yesterday’s closing price? "Forty-six dollars" he said.
SEE RELATED VIDEO Q+A: Griffin at the 2008 FOLIO: Publishing Summit