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2012 October 4

Nina Lawrence Spends $1 Million to Upsize W, Then Leaves For WSJ!

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Nina Lawrence Nina Lawrence
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(NEW YORK) W's publisher of seven years, Nina Lawrence, decamped from the Conde title today to enter the newspaper fray as VP of global marketing, advertising sales at The Wall Street Journal—and The Daily scored Lawrence's last interview for W before she bid adieu. A glossy's anniversary calls for something major, especially with four decades in the biz to celebrate, and W is taking that literally with an even bigger issue size: 25 percent bigger, to be exact. Besides megasized pages to pore over, next month's W is the biggest and the thickest November issue in five years. The Daily rang up Lawrence to talk ad stats, her favorite W cover hottie ever, why beauty is booming, and working with Stefano.

What’s the scoop on W’s anniversary issue?
I think 40 has never looked so beautiful. It’s a very big deal—and it’s physically a big deal! W invested in and created what will become an iconic collector’s issue of the magazine, by oversizing the already-oversized W trim size by 25 percent. It’s the largest sized magazine you can print, mail, and put out on the newsstands in the United States. 

What were the production costs like?
We ended up spending close to $1 million dollars oversizing the issue.

Is the circulation any different for the anniversary issue?
No. W is not a newsstand publication: we’re 95 percent subscription. I wouldn’t say the lead [goal] here is a newsstand sellout.

Does a milestone year stress you out at all?
Absolutely! How about those incremental 100 pages that we have to try next year again? We’ve more than doubled our advertising pages since last November.

What happened on the ad front for the big 4-0?
Our core partners really stepped up and created some special ads. There are wonderful editorial integrations with Armani, Tod’s, Tommy Hilfiger, and Pucci. GUESS? chose to celebrate their 30th anniversary with us, with a beautiful outsert that will be distributed with subscriber copies.

How will you be toasting to 40 years, beyond the amped-up size of the mag?
We’ll be doing an event with Tod’s in New York after we celebrate our first-ever book at Saks Fifth Avenue, our 40th anniversary retail partner, out in Los Angeles in a few weeks. Saks is also creating an e-boutique on our site, and they’ve taken ownership of our iPad app, and we’re going to create some store windows with them.

Any plans for international bashes?
Aside from running around with the issue in Paris this week?! No.

So who’s reading W nowadays?
We position ourselves now as a magazine-based brand that attracts a community of image makers. That’s the differentiating point between us and our competitors. We have the most influential [readers].

What’s shifted the most in your gig since joining W seven years ago?
When Stefano Tonchi arrived at W two years ago in September 2010, and that’s the most significant change that’s happened. He came in and reinvented our core, print product spectacularly successfully—Stefano’s W has been nominated for five National Magazine Awards in just two years!

Did Stefano celebrate his two-year mark at the mag last month?
I’m not sure, but he did have some beautiful orchids on his desk about a week ago, and that could’ve been a birthday gift from somebody…

How have you seen advertising shift over time?
It’s been very strong since Stefano’s arrival—we’re cumulatively up 230 ad pages. We’ve become a much more important beauty publication—we’ve increased our beauty editorial 50 percent last year versus this year, and ad pages in beauty are up about 18 percent this year. 

What’s luring those coveted beauty bucks in?
When Stefano arrived at W, the first thing he said was, “we are underserving our beauty passionate consumer,” and he dramatically increased his focus on it. Beauty is now a discussion that starts with the cover and runs all the way through the magazine.

Photography is such a cornerstone of W: do you play favorites?
Won’t I get in trouble if I answer that?! [laughs] My personal favorite is Tim Walker—he’s wildly inventive and takes me to places I want to go. W creates photography that takes readers to worlds they’ve never conceived of. That’s the joy, fascination, and relationship that readers have with the magazine.

What’s your favorite issue from your W tenure?
I’d have to say Brad Pitt on the cover of our February movie issue last year pretty much did it for me. He was hot! It was shot by Mario Sorrenti, and Brad really just looked dreamy. 

How would you describe your rapport with Stefano?
Stefano and I enjoy a spectacular relationship! He makes an excellent and distinctive product, and I have the opportunity to represent that product to the advertising community.

Given Stefano’s commercial approach at T, how has he brought that editorial mindset to W?
Stefano is a very good partner in terms of our ad sales, and that’s a necessary component to creating a great brand. It has to appeal to its consumer first, and be an understandable product to advertisers. Stefano understands that.

What makes W tick, four decades after inception?
W is very fortunate. There are lots of fashion and beauty titles in the United States, but we talk to the most sophisticated style people in the world. It makes us a magnet for brands that want to create a relationship with consumers who will become their brand ambassadors.

But why exactly do those influential types get drawn to W?
Other publications with largest circulations have more aspirational readers, and W attracts a true influencer who’s more affluent and sophisticated. Our editors gets this unique kind of consumer by challenging and surprising them—by showing them something they haven’t seen before.

Do you view any European fashion titles as overlap?
We’re not competitive with the European publications, but given our circulation of 450,000, we have a mass reach for the chic—while European publications are generally under 50,000. We live in our own space, and we’re kind of a big book to be reaching such affluent consumers.

Any intentions of widening that readership?
We want to remain selective. If we grow, we’d have to bring our discussion down to invite more aspirational readers, and then we’re like everybody else. We’ll be growing the brand through our digital channels, our social media, and our event platforms, but not necessarily in print.

How does your gig at W differ most markedly from your Condé publisher counterparts?
I have the best job out there! It’s been a good year—we’re one of the top performers at Condé Nast this year, and it’s great to be successful.

What does the future of W look like?
W has always been one of Condé Nast’s success stories, and I’d envision that that would continue to grow. As a brand, we’ll probably be twice the size in our footprint in all of our platforms in another five to seven years.

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