Magazine Subscriber Labels Pose Identity Theft Risk
Forbes staff writer Kashmir Hill reports that the name and address info on labels on magazine subscriber copies were, at least until last week, posing a security risk for at least some subscribers handled through Hearst-owned CDS Global. (Article does not probe whether same has been true for other magazine fulfillment providers.) Hill writes that entering her name and address into the sub management site for her Condé Nast The New Yorker sub revealed her “throwaway password” (which she uses for many sites). “Once in the account, a wannabe hacker could change the mailing address for the magazine and see the last 4 digits of a credit card associated with an account…The latter is useful for deeper hacking, as reported in 2012 by Mat Honan in New Yorker‘s sister magazine Wired.” Ashkan Soltani, an independent security advisor who probed the risks with Hill, couldn’t find other magazines displaying a person’s password the way The New Yorker was, “but all of these magazines [would] let someone access your account with some variant of the information on your mailing label,” writes Hill. When The New Yorker issue was pointed out on a security mailing list, a developer for the magazine responded and said they were “fixing ASAP.” Passwords are not on display in the clear anymore, the characters replaced with *s. A New Yorker spokesperson says the fix was made by CDS Global at their request. “We are planning to email customers who have passwords and let them know about the issue,” says New Yorker spokesperson. Beth Roy, chief client officer for CDS Global, says that magazine publishers choose which information to require at log-in to grant access to their subscribers. Roy said she could not speak to the decisions other magazines had made, but did say that their platform has a feature for publishers allowing them to hash passwords. However, writes Hill, any system that’s designed in a way that ever allows passwords to be displayed in the clear has badly designed defaults. “We have 11 different alternatives for access to subscriber accounts,” said Roy. “Forbes chose name and address, account number or email address and zip code.” That means to get into a Forbes subscriber’s account, you need one of those three combos. Soltani surveyed over 20 magazines that use CDS Global’s system and none appeared to be using any other “more secure” personal information than an email address. In most cases, that was simply an alternative to using mailing information. Article provides more detail re the security issues and more input from CDS and publisher clients.
People Magazine Teams with Target, MLB on ‘All-Star Teachers’ Program
Target has signed a national sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball, which omplements its 25-year naming rights to the Minnesota Twins’ home (Target Field), signed in 2008. As part of the marketing activities, Target, MLB and People magazine are launching a national “All-Star Teachers” program to celebrate the country’s best teachers. Target and People will select 90 finalists from consumers’ online nominations (at AllStarTeachers.com), and 30 winners (one for each MLB club, voted on by readers) will be announced during All-Star Week and attend All-Star Week activities in Minneapolis in July. One winner will also be featured in People during the week of the All-Star Game. The NY Yankees’ Carlos Beltran and L.A. Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez will help promote the program.
People.com (All-Star Teachers program)
Ad Age (Target MLB sponsorship)
Rolling Stone’s L.A. Restaurant Closed Amid Legal Troubles
The Rolling Stone Restaurant & Lounge in Los Angeles shut months ago, amid a tangle of lawsuits with more than $10M “squandered” and two arrests for fraud by advisers to former NFL player Dwight Freeney, who ended up owning the place in the end, reports Post’s Keith Kelly. “The restaurant in Hollywood [which was supposed to open in summer 2010 but didn't open till spring 2011]…was only a licensing deal for the iconic magazine,” writes Kelly. “But it was hyped as a lucrative brand extension and being positioned as the possible start of a national chain…The heavy lifting was to be done by Irish-born Niall Donnelly and local real estate developer Joe Altounian through a company they had dubbed Lucky Rug Group.” Shortly after the deal between Wenner and Lucky Rug was unveiled in 2009, Freeney appeared as a limited, 20% partner and put up $1.5M to fund the restaurant’s build-out, according to a lawsuit that Freeney filed in January. He alleges that the law firm of Bayard P.A. and one of its attorneys, Stephen Brauerman, had a serious breach in its fiduciary relationship. That’s because in March 2012, Eva Weinberg and Michael Stern were arrested by FBI agents and charged for embezzling at least $2M from Freeney and his Roof Group, his company which had eventually taken over the Rolling Stone Restaurant from Donnelly and Altounian. Wenner Media, citing pending future litigation, declined to comment.
Condé’s Vanity Fair Hires Deputy Editor from Hearst’s Town & Country
Mark Rozzo, who was an executive editor at Hearst’s Town & Country, is joining Condé Nast’s Vanity Fair as a deputy editor (now one of the magazine’s four). Rozzo had been at T&C since 2011, but had previously served as deputy editor for the launch of CN’s Men’s Vogue, and at The New Yorker.
BH&G Draws 10K Entries for Instagram Contest
Meredith’s Better Homes and Gardens is seeing strong engagement from photo contests on Instagram, with its first two efforts resulting in more than 10,000 entries. Building on this success, the magazine has launched its third Instagram contest, asking readers to share photos of their favorite color palettes using the hashtag #BHGColor for a chance to win a prize. The contest is part of a marketing campaign around the introduction of the BH&G Color Palette of the Year, a collection of seven colors meant to reflect current trends, which can be found in the April issue of the magazine.
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Kroger Plans New-Market Expansion, Mulls Acquisitions
Kroger Co. plans to enter at least one new market in the near future, CFO J. Michael Schlotman told an investor conference Wednesday in New York, though he declined to pinpoint the market. “We are going down the path of picking one new market to enter organically,” he told the UBS Global Consumer Conference. “We’ve been engaged in that process since October, and we’ve essentially [decided] where we’re going to go, though it will be a while before we go public”—both for competitive reasons and because “the cost of land always seems to go up if they know we’re looking,” he said. Kroger also plans to continue to expand in fill-in markets, he said, and it’s open to the possibility of acquiring stores that may be divested (apparently referring to a potential result of the Albertsons-Safeway combination), though he did not refer to those companies by name. Asked whether Kroger will expand Harris Teeter’s operating trade area north or south, Schlotman replied, “They’re already up into the Baltimore, Delaware and Washington, D.C., areas, and as those areas get more built up—and they will, because there is still plenty of opportunity there—a decision will be made on whether to take that nameplate further north or further south, since they already have one store in Florida.” But “we’re a long way from that decision on whether they go south or north,” Schlotman said. He also said Kroger’s larger-format stores are likely to find their way into the Harris Teeter operation.
Kroger CFO: Little Short-Term Impact Seen from Safeway Deal
Kroger Co. does not expect the synergies from the merger of Safeway and Albertsons to have much short-term impact once the deal is completed late this year, CFO J. Michael Schlotman told an investor audience Tuesday. “Sure, it will generate a lot of synergies, but there’s going to be a fair amount of interest expense to cover, so it remains to be seen how much net synergy dollars they have left to invest in competitive activities versus giving a return to the equity investors, along with the debt load they will carry, plus interest on the debt,” he said. SN details Schlotman’s other comments and insights.
Economists: Grocers Don’t Change Prices When Demand Shifts
Fluctuations in supply and
demand do not have a significant effect on grocery prices, especially when it comes to high demand spurred by an event such as a natural disaster, strike or winter storm, according to a study by two economists at the Federal Reserve.
The researchers analyzed scanner data on 29 common items across 50 metro areas from 2001 through 2011, focusing on prices during two supermarket strikes
and Hurricane Katrina, as well as 59 snowstorms and 21 hurricanes.
Mondelez International Commits to Healthier Snacks
Its goals include increasing the amount of whole grains it uses by 25% and reducing levels of sodium and saturated fat in its products by 10% by 2020. By 2020, Mondelez also says it wants to have 25% of its revenue come from “better choice” products, up from 20% currently.
Healthy CPG Launches Dominate 2013 Pacesetters
IRI’s New Product Pacesetters report shows that among food/beverage CPGs, 7 of the top 10 and 73 of the top 100 (as ranked by total year-one retail dollar sales) offer a “healthier for you” benefit. Demonstrating that the yogurt (and in particular Greek yogurt) craze still has legs, three of the top 10 were yogurt brands: #1 Dannon Light & Fit Greek ($144.9M); #2 Yoplait Greek 100 ($135.1M); and #6 Müller Yogurt ($95.M in first-year retail sales in its U.S. launch). Others in the top 10: Kellogg’s Special K Pastry Crisps ($100.6M); Tostitos Cantina Tortilla Chips ($100.3M); Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita ($97.4M); Eight O’Clock K-Cups ($89.8M); Pepsi Next ($83.2M); Kellogg’s Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwiches ($77.9M) and Atkins Frozen Meals ($74M). Among non-foods CPG launches, 48 out of the top 100 offer some kind of wellness benefit. Three home-care products made the top 10: Tide Pods ($324.6M); Downy Infusions ($90.2M); and Ajax Triple Action ($84.2M). Other leaders: L’Oreal Advanced Haircare ($141.8M); ZzzQuil ($121.1M); Vidal Sassoon Pro Series ($96M); Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy ($92.7M); Always/Tampax Radiant ($83M); Secret Outlast ($82.4M) and Puffs Basic ($74.5M).
Winning CPG Companies, Across Sizes, Employ Similar Strategies
Boston Consulting Group and IRI analyzed 400 private and public CPG companies, ranging in size from $100M to more than $5B, ranking large, midsize and smaller companies based on their retail dollar sales growth, volume growth and change in share percentages. Top-performing large companies include Hershey, Lorillard, Mondelez International, Campbell Soup Company and P&G; midsize include Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Chobani, McKee Foods, Sterilite and Monster Energy; small include Kind, Paris Presents, TalkingRain, Old World Industries and Idahoan. CPG industry’s growth slowed to 1.5% in 2013, vs. 2.8% in 2012 and 3.4% in 2011. Since 2009, large players have ceded 2.3 share points to midsize, small and extra-small (below $100M) companies, representing $14B in lost sales. Inroads by smaller companies reflect reduced barriers to entry (including the emergence of digital media and the rise of online and specialty retailers. Still, despite a decline in their overall share (just one-third of large CPG companies grew their shares), large companies collectively performed better in 2013 than in 2012. Shared strategies among winners, regardless of size, include growing base businesses while innovating, rather than innovating to overcome base declines; creating products that target specific, unmet consumer needs and that often serve as a replacement to undifferentiated products found in large, established categories, rather than relying on category ubiquity for volume; and driving growth primarily through volume rather than employing pricing as a short-term tactic to drive dollar growth in the face of declining volumes.