Bauer Media — the German publisher that sold its stable of pop culture and teen magazines three years ago — is jumping back into celebrity rags in a new venture with Drew Barrymore.
According the company, Drew will be “optimism in magazine form.” The new quarterly is “a feel-good print product devoted to beauty, love, and fun” whose glossy pages will be filled with “colorful photography and stories about what to see, where to go, products to use, recipes to make and so much more.”
And Barrymore is quoted as saying she’s dreamed of having her own magazine since she was in her teens.
It’s a dramatic reversal for Bauer, which in June 2018 sold 13 celebrity and teen titles including Closer, In Touch and Life & Style to American Media, the owner of the National Enquirer — headed by billionaire David Pecker — which subsequently changed its name to A360Media.
“The content, cadence, and consumer of the celebrity/entertainment magazines that Bauer sold to AMI in 2018 could not be any more different from Drew,” said a Bauer spokeswoman. “When Bauer made the decision to focus its portfolio on its women’s service business, CEO Steven Kotok was clear that he had every intention to further grow this strong business.”
Drew is actually the second new magazine that Bauer has launched into the teeth of the recession. In December, it launched another eponymously titled magazine, Joy the Baker with food blogger Joy Wilson. That is now quarterly. Drew is starting slowly with its first issue hitting newsstands this week with a second issue not scheduled until the fall. Both will carry the relatively high cover price, $9.99.
In many ways, the newest launch is a modern refinement of a strategy that was ushered in by Martha Stewart in the 1990s and her partnership with Time Inc. to launch Martha Stewart Living. Twenty years ago Hearst teamed up with Oprah Winfrey to launch O, the Oprah Magazine and Reader’s Digest in 2005 launched Every Day before selling it to Meredith in 2011.
The Oprah and Rachael Ray titles now appear quarterly with $9.99 cover prices. MSL still publishes 10 issues a year at a cover price of $4.99.
“The focus is more on service via the celebrity rather than celebrity news and views,” according to professor Samir Husni, founder of the Magazine Innovation Center at the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.
Celebrity-themed magazines can be problematic. Hearst cut Good Life with Dr. Mehmet Oz back from a regular frequency magazine to high-priced quarterly when treatments endorsed by the heart surgeon drew government scrutiny. And Condé Nast stopped publishing Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop magazine when the actress would not let treatments and therapies she endorsed to be vigorously fact checked.
Nevertheless, “This genre of magazines is proving to be what the doctor ordered during this pandemic and beyond,” Husni said. “I expect to see more partnerships like this in the future. Service journalism is a must, the celebrity is the icing on the cake.”