Conde Nast’s announcement that they were shuttering Gourmet magazine after nearly seven decades of glossy publication came as a shock to many. I can’t pretend that I am so accomplished or interested a cook that it affects me directly any more than the simultaneous news that two of their two Bride titles—Modern and Elegant—were closing as well (I’m not sure that they put out a Hillbilly Bride but if so, that survived). Still, one aspect of this announcement has a distinctly contemporary spin…
Conde Nast plans to continue the Gourmet brand. While declining ad sales doomed the magazine, Gourmet-branded cookbooks will continue to appear in the market. A new Gourmet TV show debuts on PBS on October 21. And in a bit of grim irony, Gourmet recipes will even remain on Epicurious.com, the very type of free recipe site that hastened it’s editorial demise.
So while sister publication Bon Appetit will probably fulfill the balances for Gourmet’s subscribers, the name itself will not disappear from popular—or at least foodie—culture. That is a very smart decision—brands are powerful things: difficult and expensive to build, but resilient and enduring in the public mind. That’s why a savvy holding company has been able to leverage the Pabst Blue Ribbon brand through contract brewing. It’s why a similar strategy revived Indian Motorcycles. And its why the Gourmet brand does have a future—just not in the format where it was built.
The world changes. Brands that adapt to that reality can create a sustainable future, even if it’s one that their brand stewards never imagined. Or candidly, particularly wanted.