May 12, 2008
By Lucia Moses
Bridal magazines are pretty if predictable: a cover model resplendent in white, followed by a catalogue of monochrome dresses inside. Two of the category leaders, published by Condé Nast, are about to unveil changes meant to underscore their differences with readers and advertisers.
With its summer issue, Elegant Bride, a quarterly aimed at affluent brides in their thirties, will issue a crisp, elegant redesign that emphasizes the upscale. Editor Antonia van der Meer updated the logo, replaced the cover model with a cake, stripped off the coverlines, softened the color palette and added the tagline "Weddings Made Beautiful."
Modern Bride, meanwhile, will continue its trend, and sometimes irreverent, coverage of weddings, introducing sex as a regular editorial staple. Wedding-night sex is touted on the cover of the June/July issue; a future issue will look at why a man's sex drive increases after he becomes engaged.
"Weddings tend to be looked at as sacred, and people are afraid to think of the bride as a real girl," said van der Meer, who also edits Modern Bride for the younger, nontraditional bride, while Condé Nast's Brides, the category leader in ad pages, serves the young, tradition-minded bride. "She talks to her friends about [sex], and she expects it in her magazine."
In early June, Modern Bride also will launch a consumer campaign, "I Am A Modern Bride," that will feature ethnically diverse celebrities like Lisa Ling and Daisy Fuentes. The campaign will run in 13 Condé Nast magazines and on kiosks near ad agencies.
The changes are coming under Bill Wackermann, who earlier this year added oversight for the bridal titles to his publishing duties for Glamour and who is trying to bring new advertisers down the aisle by demonstrating that brides are "this über, super consumer."
To that end, in March he decentralized the bridal group's two-year-old integrated print and online sales structure, naming Katherine Rizzuto as dedicated publisher of Brides and Jennifer Hicks as publisher of Modern Bride and Elegant Bride, as well as Your Prom.
Wackermann's goal is to reduce the books' wedding dress ads to 50 percent from about 75 percent and to grow categories including fashion and beauty. "I don't think we've done a good enough job of conveying why she's of value to the market," he said. "These are fashion and beauty magazines for women who are interested in fashion and beauty."
Of the three books, only Brides grew its ad pages so far this year, per Mediaweek Monitor. Through the May/June issue, Brides' pages rose 2.2 percent to 1,509 versus last year. Modern Bride's pages were down 5.7 percent to 1,072.9 through the June/July issue, while Elegant Bride's were off 12 percent to 258 through the spring issue.
Jane Deery, president of PGR Media, said fashion/beauty advertisers have historically avoided bridal books because of their high reader turnover. "They don't see it as a longstanding relationship with that target audience," she said, whereas "you might have a Glamour reader for 10 years." But Condé Nast could use volume discounts to motivate new advertisers to shift some dollars from other companies' fashion books, she said.
Marcella Berlin, director of creative services at Christian Dior Beauty, which just entered the bridal category with a schedule in all three Condé Nast titles, said bridal books are well-positioned to grow fashion/beauty. "When the economy is hurting, this kind of category becomes even more important," she said, adding, "I don't see a downshift on people getting married."