In the Game of Thrones that is magazine publishing, there is a cryptic new saying: Wintour is coming. That would be Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue, and now Artistic Director of Condé Nast. Only five years ago, rumors were swirling that Anna had reached the end of her reign; Carine Roitfeld, then Editor in Chief of French Vogue, was rumored to be the new queen. How things have changed.
Since taking over fashion’s biggest publication, part of Wintour’s work has been becoming a legend as notorious as she is famous. Runway shows did not start without her sitting front and center. She could make or break designers. She hardly bothered to brush off the outrageous allegations made in a former assistant’s novel, The Devil Wears Prada. Then, with the Recession and every magazine including Vogue taking deep hits, the speculation began: Was Wintour over?
Not by a long shot. Through a series of strategic moves, including allowing a cooly chic documentary, The September Issue, to record her quietly brutal taste-making process, Wintour has strengthened her position as the premiere mover and shaker in the fashion universe. A New York Times article described Wintour’s influence as her publisher’s new artistic director, placing her gilded touch – or iron fist – on every magazine. Condé Nast Chief Executive Charles Townsend said, “Anna is the biggest talent we have, maybe the biggest in the business, and I am going to play that card for all it’s worth.”
THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Anna Wintour, for getting her perfectly coiffed head off the chopping block and fitted for a new tiara.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: You don’t always need to play dirty, but you do need to play hard. When rumors began circulating that Condé Nast was considering a replacement for Wintour, she fought back. How? By doing what she does best: being Anna Wintour. She gained media space by contributing to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, creating new rumors of being rewarded with an ambassador position. She let the world have a peek inside her process at Vogue in a film that showed her as talking softly, yet carrying a large stick of influence. Now, Anna reigns supreme, and whether Condé Nasties like it or not, it’s going to be a very long Wintour indeed.