Video: Chef, restaurateur and iVillage Food contributor Donatella Arpaia prepares her quick Sunday ragu at the launch party for iVillage.com/food
Last night at the Culinary Loft in SoHo, iVillage celebrated the launch of its newly revamped food destination, iVillage.com/food, with basil-limoncello cocktails, Web site demos, and a veritable Italian feast prepared by New York restaurant fixture and iVillage contributor Donatella Arpaia.
On the heels of September’s entertainment site relaunch, which Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal‘s Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, says spurred a spike in page views, membership, and message board activity, iVillage hopes to recreate that success with its latest makeover in the Food category.
“Almost three-fourths of all women who are on the Web rely on the Internet for meal planning and healthy eating,” said Zalaznick. “If we fill that gap… that’s how iVillage is going to win.”
Christina Bender, director of product development for iVillage, acknowledged, “We know competition’s stiff,” citing FoodNetwork.com, Delish.com, and MarthaStewartLiving.com as rivals. Bender said the new site’s secret weapon will be to “uncover what women are already saying” in the vibrant iVillage community of 20 million unique monthly visitors, bolstered by their unique access to NBC Universal’s “premier content,” which includes Bravo‘s explosively popular “Top Chef” brand.
“This is a community-centric site, not a user-generated site,” Zalaznick said. It’s “a big, rollicking portal that behaves like a series of niches.”
“You have to be able to adapt and keep up with the way women use media,” said chief content officer Angela Matusik, who says the revamp is meant to “modernize the message board” with new tools and ways to contribute to the conversation. Next up to go under the knife? The Astrology channel, followed by Health, Beauty and Family. And stay tuned, Matusik added, for a new iVillage social media community platform set to launch sometime in 2010.
Read on for a breakdown of the site’s features and fabulous food photos:
Also today, there were reports of editorial change at Allen’s former home Cooking Light. The Media of Birmingham blog reported that editor-in-chief Mary Kay Culpepper will be departing the Southern Progress publication on October 1, to be replaced by Scott Mowbray, who has been working as executive editor Time Inc.’s Lifestyle Group since this spring.
A Time Inc. publicist confirmed Culpepper’s move to FishbowlNY, adding that she will be starting a creativity studies graduate program in New York next spring. Cooking Light has also recently undergone a redesign. The revamped magazine hit newsstands August 25.
Time Inc. subsidiary Southern Progress Corp. purchased Southern Accents in 1985. The 32-year-old magazine was published six times a year. A rep for Southern Accents told FishbowlNY that 20 people would be affected by the magazine’s closure, although she wasn’t sure whether they would be let go or retained in some way. “The company is going to make every effort to retain the employees,” she added.
“Southern Accents is an elegant, sophisticated brand that has resonated with its devoted readers for many years,” said Sylvia Auton, the Time Inc. executive VP who oversees the Lifestyle Group. “However, in this difficult economy, we need to focus our energy, resources and investment on our biggest and most profitable brands, so we had to make this difficult decision.”
MediaDailyNews reports that MSLO has brought on Janet Balis (left) as executive vice president of media sales and marketing. She will oversee sales across the publishing, broadcast and digital properties and will report to MSLO’s executive chair Charles Koppelman. Balis joins MSLO from her own consutling company Digital Media Strategies, where she has worked for the past year and half. She also previously worked for Time Warner, where she served in positions at Time.com, People.com and AOL.
Mediaweek said Allen, who had previously served as publisher for Cooking Light, is leaving without another job lined up.
“It was more of a three- to four-week consulting trial,” Allen told Mediaweek. “I just think the nature of the job to be done on the particular titles was not what I expected it to be. I think I thought it was a larger, more strategic task than it was.”
It looks like there is at least one magazine in New York that is not cutting back staff. In fact, new magazine Food Network Magazine is actually promoting current staff and bringing on new hires.
Despite being introduced in the midst of the great magazine die off last year with two newsstand-only test issues in October 2008 and January 2009, Food Network is thriving. The magazine, which recently announced a huge rate base increase, revealed some staff promotions and new hires today on both the edit and business sides.
A tipster tells us that Southern Progress arm of Time Inc. has been hit again in the current round of layoffs (we reported on a series of layoffs there last month). More specifically that a number of high level, much-admired, editors, as well as a publisher have “decided not to stay on” and that the marketing team for all of Cooking Light has been dissolved. More details as we get them.