It seems like just last April that the venerable old Atlantic Monthly (wait, sorry, it's just The Atlantic now) launched a web-focused redesign based on the helpful input of presumably expensive "brand consultants." And, what do you know, it was just last April! But now we're in phase two of the magazine's makeover, which means increasingly insane covers and slightly more attractive blogs for their hundred bloggers (NB: we do actually like most of their bloggers, especially Ta-Nehisi Coates, James Fallows, and crazy Andrew Sullivan—all better than TNR, basically). Here's the announcement! But will this save the magazine? While the newish Harper's website fits that magazine's fusty, "who needs to turn a profit anyway" aesthetic (and subscribers get full access to the indispensable indexed archives), The Atlantic's recent branding campaigns don't seem to have anything to do with the magazine's identity, whatever the hell that is anymore (plus: 300 articles for $100 with nothing from 1964-1992 just doesn't compare to the Harper's deal.) Honestly the Atlantic's identity crisis still stems from the move from lame Boston to miserable DC followed by a new focus on, you know, politics, though that crisis has actually produced what might be a better magazine with more interesting (to us) features. And hey, the website looks good, the new logo is a cool appropriation of their '60s logo, and the mag redesign will probably look very nice (unless it's as pointlessly busy as that first cover). Still, a massive ad campaign and a expensive rebranding for a smart current events mag seems a bit '90s, right? BUT! Atlantic Media also owns the expensive subscription-only political trade journals of the National Journal Group! And if there is a market for political journalism in this nation, that is the model, so far, that seems the best able to weather the storm. So, thankfully, Global Security Newswire will subsidize Andrew Sullivan well into the Obama administration and on until he turns conservative again.
When ancient and respected old magazine The Atlantic put Britney Spears on their cover for an utterly so-so story on the celebrity-industrial complex or whatever (it was OK but Rolling Stone's piece was better), everyone (i.e. us) mocked them for selling out and claimed it was a cynical ploy at boosting newsstand sales or something. Well. Mea culpa! Because if it was a cynical ploy at boosting newsstand sales, it failed miserably. "The magazine sold approximately 24,000 copies at the newsstand, some 21,000 less than March and nearly 30,000 less than its January/February issue." According to Atlantic Media president Justin Smith (the man who destroyed The Atlantic), they meant to do that.
For some reason we thought 02138—the annoyingly named pretend Harvard alumni magazine that proclaimed itself Vanity Fair for people who went to Harvard and wished to read a second, inferior Vanity Fair each month—had already been shuttered by Atlantic Media. Well, it's alive. Tiny, unknown Manhattan Media (they own the New York Press and some things you've never heard of) bought the magazine from Atlantic Media for an undisclosed price. The publisher will remain cofounder Bom Kim (for now), but Manhattan Media has decided to expand the brand into—wait for it—social networking. Then they will introduce new versions of the magazine for every other Ivy League school, because if there's a group of people who don't have enough media outlets to write for, it's Ivy grads. Amusingly, the Manhattan Media press release announcing the deal leaves out their only existing holding anyone remembers reading: the embarrassing second-string alt-weekly New York Press. That release after the jump, along with a selection from this week's Press "guest sex columnist." [NYT]
The Atlantic is a magazine about news and culture and stuff. It has been continually published for thousands of years—its founding editor was Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar. Now, though, the internet, which has made Americans forget how to read, is killing it. They struck back recently by putting on their cover a woman who is famous for being mentally disturbed, and now they've gone so far as to bring on brand consultants. Folio reports that Atlantic Media hired "an integrated marketing agency to handle its rebranding." They're redesigning the magazine and relaunching the website! Next fall they will "roll out of a full-scale marketing campaign to communicate the brand message." This is "something the Atlantic has never done" because it is a thing that was invented by marketing agencies ten years ago. [The Atlantic]