[A] few months ago CondÃ© Nast replaced a departing Wired publisher with Chris Mitchell, a former Wired sales guy who had been publisher of Details since 2004. Now Mr. Mitchell wants to sell fashion and luxury marketers on a magazine that recently published a supplement called "Geekipedia."I worked at Wired as an intern during the first half of 2007, and I still write items for the magazine. Part of my duties there were to handle the calls and letters subscribers would send in, and many would concern the advertising content of the magazine. Judging from the calls and emails I received, they are a prickly lot. One subscriber vowed to cancel his subscription based on the number of ads for, as I remember him saying, "yuppie consumer crap that no one needs." Other calls focused on the same thing, sometimes with harsher language.
The editors don't have to do anything differently, but the sales team needs to rearticulate the Wired mission, Mr. Mitchell said. "On my first week, I was saying to people, 'Less belt holster, more iPhone,'" he said. "That to me is, for better or worse, how I see the brand evolution."
That said, my view (as unbiased as it can be) is that Wired's move towards luxury ad pages is pretty smart. For one, Wired is one of the few print publications that is seeing its number of ad pages hold the line while the rest of the industry heads into the abyss. Two, its readers have a higher income, according to Mediamark Research, than publications like Esquire and Vanity Fair, which already cater towards luxury brands.
Three, and maybe most importantly, the tech audience of Wired is uniquely positioned to continue spending on high-end brands even if the recession hits hard and long. The Silicon Valley audience depends, more than anything else, on online advertising to keep the lights on in their businesses. While smaller startups (with smaller paychecks) may close their doors, already established online firms will only benefit from the shifting flow of advertising spend from offline to online. All those dollars have to be spent somewhere, and brands and products placed in Wired have a good chance of being what the cash is plunked down upon.