Meredith to Acquire Popular Shape Brand From American Media, Names Tim O’Conner Publisher of New Shape Magazine


Meredith Corporation announced today that it has reached an agreement to acquire Shape magazine and the digital assets of the Shape, Natural Health, and Fit Pregnancy brands from American Media (AMI).

Meredith will begin producing Shape magazine with the May 2015 issue, with current readers of Shape and Meredith’s Fitness magazine receiving the new and enhanced Shape magazine.  Shape will have a rate base of 2.5 million, an increase of 60 percent from its current level of 1.6 million. The Shape and Fitness websites will continue to operate as separate digital destinations, with a combined reach of almost 7 million unduplicated unique monthly visitors.

“The acquisition of Shape establishes Meredith as the leader in the women’s active lifestyle media category,” said National Media Group President Tom Harty. “It increases our reach among millennial women to over 23 million, creating an unmatched opportunity for advertisers to connect with this highly-valued audience across multiple media channels.”

Shape magazine covers exercise, beauty, nutrition, health, fashion, wellness, and other lifestyle topics to help women lead a healthier, active lifestyle. It is the category leader and has a median household income of $87,000 and median age of 39, the youngest in the category.

Tom Witschi, President of the Meredith Women’s Lifestyle Group, will oversee the new brands. The digital brands and related assets will report to Jon Werther, President, Meredith Digital. In addition, Galvanized LLC will be working with Meredith on the newly combined Shape and Fitness.

“We’re excited that David Zinczenko and his team from Galvanized will continue to oversee the editorial and brand vision for Shape to ensure stability and continued quality throughout the transition,” Witschi said. “David has been the acting Editorial Director for Shape at AMI, and he and his team bring an unsurpassed expertise in the healthy, active lifestyle field, as demonstrated by their success in building Men’s Health; the launch of Women’s Health; and the recent award-winning re-launch of Men’s Fitness.”

The company also announced today that award-winning advertising and marketing executive Tim O’Connor has been named the publisher for the new Shape magazine. Earlier today, Meredith announced it had acquired Shape and its digital assets from American Media Inc., and that it is combining its current Fitness magazine into Shape to create a new Shape magazine with an expanded rate base of 2.5 million. Shape and Fitness will maintain separate digital websites.

Most recently, O’Connor served as a Managing Director for Meredith’s Corporate Sales Group. He will work alongside Eric Schwarzkopf, who will serve as Associate Publisher for the brand recently acquired by Meredith from American Media Inc. (AMI). The new Shape is being combined with Fitness magazine to bring women the best in fitness, beauty, fashion and food in one lifestyle publication.

In this new role, O’Connor and Schwarzkopf will work closely with the Shape team to build on the brand’s leadership in the marketplace. The new Shape under Meredith’s leadership will start with the May 2015 issue.

“Tim brings years of dynamic experience in the fashion, retail, and beauty markets with an impressive record of generating new revenue sources,” says Tom Witschi, EVP/President, Meredith Women’s Lifestyle Group. “Combined with Eric’s knowledge and experience in categories such as apparel, fitness products and food, we have put together a best-in-class team to lead and grow the new Shape brand.”

Previously, O’Connor held multiple leadership positions including serving as Associate Publisher at InStyle, where he led the sales team through four consecutive years as the #1 market share leader in the beauty/fashion category. He also develop numerous successful content and sponsorship programs for the InStyle brand.

O’Connor has also served as Associate Publisher at Vogue, and served as Associate Publisher of Glamour.

Meredith also announced that Elizabeth Goodman Artis, the current editor-in-chief of Shape, will remain in her current role. “She has done a terrific job building the voice and passion for Shape among its loyal audience on many platforms, and we look forward to her continuing that leadership,” says Witschi.

Betty Wong, Fitness editor-in-chief, is joining Meredith Digital, where she will serve as the VP, Brand Development for the Shape and Fitness digital brands, and work on content strategy, as well as developing new digital products and services in the women’s health and lifestyle marketplace.

“We are thrilled to have Betty join our digital team to help us create best in class digital products for today’s healthy, active millennial women,” says Andy Wilson, Meredith’s Chief Digital Officer. “Betty has always been someone who embraced the critical role that digital media plays on all platforms and in the lives of women. Her experience and passion for the marketplace will enable us to grow our products and offerings in new and exciting ways.”

“As Shape joins Meredith’s Women’s Lifestyle Group, it is poised to build upon it’s extraordinary position as the category leader in both ad pages and circulation to deepen connections with its audience, while reaching out to new ones,” said David J. Pecker Chairman and CEO AMI. “We couldn’t be more proud of the work of the editors and publishers who have helped build Shape into the industry-leader it is today, and I look forward to seeing it continue its remarkable success at Meredith in the years ahead.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.  The transaction will be accretive to Meredith’s fiscal 2015 financial performance.  Meredith will provide more detail when it reports its fiscal 2015 second quarter results on January 28, 2015.

The acquisition of Shape is the latest in a series of acquisitions, launches and alliances for Meredith’s National Media Group including:

·         A 10-year licensing agreement with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia to acquire the rights to Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Weddings and media properties.

·         The launch of the award-winning Allrecipes magazine, which followed the acquisition of Last week Meredith raised the rate base of Allrecipes to 1.1 million.

·         The acquisition of leading digital destinations and platforms, including the growing website and native and engagement-based digital advertising leader Selectable Media.

Additionally, over the last three years, Meredith has acquired the Eating Well, Family Fun, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Parenting and Baby Talk brands.  In spring of 2015, Meredith plans to launch Parents Latina, an English-language magazine with a ratebase of 700,000 targeting millennial Hispanic moms.

“We continue to strengthen our focus on the important areas of home, family, food and health,” said Meredith Chairman and CEO Steve Lacy.  “This acquisition strengthens our portfolio in both the print and digital space, and is consistent with our Total Shareholder Return strategy to pursue investments that scale our business and increase shareholder value.”

Meredith has also been executing a strategy to expand its broadcast television footprint.  In the last year, Meredith’s Local Media Group has completed or announced the acquisition of television stations in Phoenix, St. Louis, Mobile-Pensacola and Springfield (Mass.).

“We continue to look for strategic acquisitions, partnerships and investment opportunities like these to expand our reach and create additional shareholder value,” said Meredith Chief Development Officer John Zieser.


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