MILAN, Italy — Hearst is set to launch a digital-only edition of Esquire in Italy, with Giampietro Baudo as editor-in-chief.
“We have a wide female brand portfolio, with Elle, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan in Italy, but up to now we didn’t have any menswear titles within Hearst,” Giacomo Moletto, chief executive of Hearst Europe, tells BoF. “We are opening up into this specific segment. I would say Condé Nast is by far leading the market [in Italy] with GQ and Wired — now we think there is an opportunity for us to be a player in the men’s fashion system. There’s going to be competition when Esquire launches.”
Esquire will launch in October and will look to deliver the broad range of content published by its American and UK counterparts, covering fashion, lifestyle and tech. The online-only format is the first of its kind for Hearst in Italy and forms part of Hearst Europe's new digital focus — in January this year, the company launched Hearst Digital, based in Switzerland, which will be responsible for Hearst's cross-platform online content. In September, Hearst Spain regained control of its edition of Esquire, which had previously been produced under license.
“The Italian digital revolution is happening,” says Moletto. “Digital media in Italy is lower than in most other European countries — that’s an infrastructure thing due to the [lack of] fast internet and fast data. But the only way to make yourself a digital player is by launching product in the digital world rather than focusing on print, and trying then to make that a digital product,” he says.
The set-up is unique in that Esquire.it will launch with two editors-in-chief — Baudo, who was previously the director of the European fashion and luxury newspaper MFFFashion, will be in charge of fashion and business development, while Timothy Small will be in charge of editorial development. “So one is going to focus on making the site big, and the other is going to focus on making the site fashionable,” says Moletto.
“It’s quite strange to have two editors-in-chief,” Baudo tells BoF. “It’s very modern — we will have a dialogue across topics to try and make sure our output is the best. Everyone is online now, it’s not just millennials,” he says. Launching as a digital-only publication is also less risky for Hearst — especially given that Condé Nast announced that it would be shuttering Vogue L’Uomo (where Baudo was one-time managing editor) in July 2017 amidst a restructure of budgets, as advertising continued to slump. Esquire.it will be the sole digital-only version of Esquire in the world.
In addition to traditional ad sales, Esquire.it will also offer sponsored content. “It’s also a means of us keeping up with the evolution of our advertisers’ needs,” says Moletto. “The clients are going in that direction and we need to align.”