Conde Nast recently hired McKinsey and Co. to "rethink" the magazine business after a year of advertising turmoil. I've managed to get my hands on a draft memo written by one senior McKinsey consultant after his first three days at 4 Times Square. Here are excerpts:
To: Chuck Townsend, CEO, Conde Nast
From: McKinsey and Co.
In the interest of vertical interconnectivity and maximum impactfulness, we just wanted to share some of our initial observations/questions with you. We hope these don't seem too obvious:
1. The role of writers in the magazine production process seems worthy of examination. What do they do? Why are there so many?
2. Some of the writers -- we're thinking Jon Lee Anderson, George Packer, William
Lagewishe LangeswishceLangewiesche -- spend a lot of money traveling to foreign countries such as Afghanistan and Baghdad. The Week covers these countries at a fraction of your cost. Could The Week be a model for your news coverage?
3. Old Sushi. Could the cafeteria's uneaten sushi be used for Gourmet photo shoots?
4. Has the company considered using the World Wide Web as a platform for its magazines? "Weblogs" and other websites could then "link" to Conde Nast articles. This would surely generate significant advertising income.
5. Two words: Salon dinners.
6. Does Big Apple use pedicabs as well as Town Cars? Might be worthwhile for short trips.
7. Is "A. Leibovitz" the accounting code for a corporate jet?
8. We enjoy The New Yorker, but could you make it more like Cookie? Also, is Sasha Frere-Jones a black woman or a white male? Not sure who to look for in the cafeteria.
9. In re: Central services efficiencies, could Wired editors staff the "Help Desk"? Might be big downstream upside here.
10. Whatever happened to Dan Baum? He was a good writer.
11. We think Graydon Carter was mocking us in our first meeting. Not sure. Could you check?
12. We're having difficulty making Anna Wintour talk to us. Is there something you could do about this?