Marie O’Riordan, loyalty and magazines

Former Marie Claire editor Marie O’Riordan has popped up again, heading up the launch of a contract title for John Lewis at John Brown with a focus on fashion, beauty and the home (with Vanessa Thompson as editor).

In an interview for In Publishing with Meg Carter, O’Riordan questions whether mainstream publishers have caused disloyalty among their readers with free cover gifts such as flip flops. She also makes some comparisons between consumer and consumer sectors:

‘Magazine teams within the contract sector tend to be leaner and more agile. I have found people at John Brown move quickly and easily between different sectors … You just don’t get that in consumer publishing where people are very much tied to individual titles and, over time, people and thinking can become institutionalised.’

It seems O’Riordan wants to have her cake and eat it. Women’s magazines, particularly weeklies, have long relied on their readers’ loyalty to keep them coming back to buy the same title issue after issue – and where’s the line here between loyalty and being institutionalised?

Staff on magazines get to know their readers well and it takes time to build up an understanding.  Of course, that loyalty can become a drag when change is needed, but it can also be a strength. (Editors can see loyalty as a strength when it’s backing them up and ‘reluctance to change’ when the tide is running against them.)

Some questions to ponder:

  1. Did Harri Peccinotti become institutionalised on Nova? After all, he was art editor for the first issue in 1964 and was still taking photographs for it in 1975. Did he help keep Nova going or drag it down?
  2. IPC blamed the closure of Honey on the lack of co-operation from the staff with new editor, Glenda Bailey. Who was right?
  3. The contract publishing industry was built on the fact that readers trusted magazines. Are readers showing any sign of loyalty to contract titles?
  4. The big women’s magazine publishers in Spain ran an experiment in thte early 1990s. They banned cover mounts for a month. The result? Sales for the sector fell about 30%. It was deemed to be monopolistic behaviour by the EU so no-one’s been able to try it again. So, are cover mount a good thing?

Customer publishing profiles at

2 Responses to “Marie O’Riordan, loyalty and magazines”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Interesting. Do you have any more information about that Spanish cover mount experiment?

  2. Andrew Says:

    Interesting. Do you have any more information about that Spanish cover mount experiment?

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