Since its founding Meredith has operated quietly and efficiently far from the media capital of the world, New York City. The company prides itself not only in its top shelf brands and employees but also its low-key style and culture in quiet Des Moines Iowa. But, that low-key image and culture the company has enjoyed for many years is slowly disappearing thanks to its acquisition of Time Inc’s high profile brands like People, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, InStyle and many others. Many of these brands are rooted in New York media circles and events that will forever now take Meredith out of its mid western comfort zone and into the big media spotlight it managed to avoid for years. The only way Meredith can “midwesternize” the former Time inc brands is to move them all to Iowa and that’s just not going to happen.
But the former Time Inc brands are definitely adding some sparkle to Meredith whether they know it and want it or not. One of the first major events under Meredith that brings out the who’s who in New York media and Hollywood is the Time 100 Gala taking place on April 24 at New York City’s Lincoln Center. This event was usually attended by Time Inc’s top brass which means Meredith CEO Tom Harty and Chairman Steve Lacy will be in attendance to rub shoulders with the high profile individuals the former Time Inc brands covers daily on their websites and monthly in their print editions. In a recent interview Meredith’s executive chairman Stephen Lacy seemed to believe that after taking on these brands its business as usual at Meredith’s Iowa Headquarters. Surely it is but the big spotlight Meredith now finds itself in seems to have not yet registered as reality to Mr. Lacy. In the interview he made remarks that could easily be seen as a jab at Conde Nast where he said:
“In Des Moines, Iowa, we don’t have to prove anything to anybody about the Meredith Corporation. We don’t have drivers. We’d look silly, and it would be not in keeping with who we are.”
But he then ended that statement by making sure to mention that not having a “black car” is by choice saying:
“I presume you know that if I want a black car, I can get one.”
That’s all good that Mr. Lacy can have a black car if he wants one, but where he’s wrong, is thinking that Meredith doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Sure when Meredith was operating quietly in Iowa with its well read but less mainstream brands like Better Homes & Garden that was true. But after expanding its presence in the media capital of the world by acquiring Time Inc’s more mainstream brands and the difficulties attached to them, Meredith has lots to prove now more than ever because all eyes are on its new CEO Tom Harty and how those brands will be integrated and perform under the Meredith umbrella. And lets not forget Meredith’s shareholders. Whether Mr. Lacy and Mr. Harty accepts it or not, Meredith is now part of New York City and Hollywood big media and that means Meredith is now part of the perpetual cycle of showing and proving.
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