With the announcement it will shutter the short-lived Cargo, Conde Nast has concurred with what married women have known all along, men, even well-groomed men, don’t shop. So Cargo, like Fairchild Publication’s Vitals last year, will head to the men’s shopping magazine graveyard following its May issue.
"Cargo tried hard to say it is not a shopping magazine for men…because everybody knows men do not shop, they buy," says Samir A. Husni, chairman of the Department of Journalism at the University of Mississippi. "Yet, the media and advertisers kept referring to it as a shopping magazine for men. If the media did not have Lucky to compare it to (since both are published by the same company), Cargo might have worked."
Cargo was launched in March 2004 with all the fanfare, not to mention all the hip and beautiful men and women, Conde Nast could pack into a cavernous quasi-warehouse space on Manhattan’s west side, according to one observer.
It launched with a 300,000 rate base and is currently at 400,000. Advertising revenue from the publication was better than $25 million its first year and $34.9 million last year, but its ad revenue slid in the first two months of this year to $1.8 million from almost $2.3 million in the first two months of last year, according to the most recent PIB figures.
According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Cargo had a paid circulation of 373,727 for the six-month period ended Dec. 31,2005. But Cargo lumbered under the shadow of female shopping mag, Lucky, which had a paid circulation of almost 1.1 million for the same time period.
Charles Townsend, CEO of Conde Nast Publications, said in a statement he believed the market would not support business expectations for Cargo, a buyer’s guide for men featuring the latest in men’s fashion, culture, technology and cars. A Cargo spokeswoman said she could not elaborate on what what exactly Conde Nast’s expectations for Cargo were.
"We had a business plan with certain expectations and this week made a difficult decision because the magazine fell short of what was expected of it," said spokeswoman Maurie Perl.
It’s been widely reported that editor-in-chief Ariel Foxman and publisher Lance Ford will lose their jobs, while the rest of the staff will be reassigned to other Conde Nast positions or given a severance package.
John Harrington, editor of The New Single Copy, declined to comment specifically on Cargo, but said the expectations of a mammoth publisher such as Conde Nast’s tend to be on the high side. "They’re not looking for a niche publication," Harrington says. "But, on the other hand, they usually give the publication more of a chance."
Subscribers to Cargo will receive GQ magazine, another publication from Conde Nast, for the remainder of their subscriptions, Conde Nast said.