Marketing wizard, impeccably dressed, luxury living aficionado, dachshund loving Anthony Cenname has been publisher of the WSJ. Magazine since 2009. Cenname worked his way through the publishing ranks, collaborating with top editors from legendary Editor-in-Chief Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia and WSJ Magazine’s visionary editor Kristina O’Neil. While he can keep a secret to the grave, he opened up about his career to EZ.
You’ve come such a long way from your first job as sales assistant at L’Uomo Vogue to Publisher of WSJ Magazine. Tell us about your journey.
It seems like it was yesterday that I started at Vogue Italia/L’Uomo Vogue as a Sales Assistant. After 3 months, I was promoted to Salesperson and after 3 years, I was U.S. Sales and Marketing Director for Italian Conde Nast. After 10 years, I became Ad Director at Details then went to American Express as Vice President/Advertising Director of Travel & Leisure, where I developed all the non-travel business.
In 2009, I came to WSJ Magazine, and it was a dream come true. Being in an environment that is relevant and influential became essential to fashion marketers and there is nothing more powerful than The Wall Street Journal.
What is your secret to success/advice to people getting into the business?
You need to have resiliency in order to get where you want to go and always be cognizant of turning negatives to positives.
Did you always want to be in publishing?
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I was attracted to glamorous things and I always read L’Uomo Vogue and GQ. My mother and father were Italians who were part of the “La Dolce Vita generation of the late 50’s/early 60’s. Style was natural them. My older siblings were of “club age” in the 70’s and frequented Studio 54 with the fashion and art crowds. These influences coupled with spending every summer in Italy led me to a life of style. The style quotient of Italian men inspired me to get into the business. Fashion and glamour became second nature for me. When I was very young I considered being a Catholic priest; however I wanted more excitement and was drawn to culture and fashion. Although, I would have been great at taking confessions. As my advertisers know I am a great listener and I keep their marketing/advertising endeavors close to the vest.
What was a pivotal time in your career?
1994 was a pivotal year because Franca Sozzani and I decided to come up with a big idea for L’Uomo Vogue in the U.S.A. Barneys had just moved uptown form 17th Street/7th Avenue and opened on Madison Avenue. She and I developed a Tribute to Style, shot by Roxanne Lowit at the new store. We did a fabulous event during fashion week with the September Issue at Barneys.
At this time, publications began to recognize the need to shake things up. It was not just about selling ad pages; it was more about brand perception and bringing the pages of the magazine to life in unique ways. Added value became the new mantra.
This event deepened my appreciation for events and marketing and the influence they have on a magazine’s success. This experience helped propel my career forward and was the height of my tenure as U.S Advertising & Marketing Director.
What program are you most proud of at WSJ Magazine?
I am most proud of the WSJ Magazine Innovator Awards, which is a signature WSJ Magazine platform I created with my team. Each November, we have a special issue and correlating event where we honor visionaries in architecture, design, entertainment, fashion, humanitarianism and technology. Last year, Daft Punk took home the Innovator Award for Entertainment. They graced the November cover along with Gisele Bündchen, who presented them with the award along with Pharrell Williams. It was exciting to see them honored at the Grammy’s a few months later. I’m proud we got there first!
What is your take on social media?
I am an avid social media user. Recently, I tweeted something that I believe is what should be the core of every post: “When people are emotionally moved, they are more likely to share.” Take away rule: Always post news that carries emotion.
It’s a great way to stay connected with the industry and friends. However, for me, social media will never replace a face to face meeting or dinner.
How do you think digital has changed the publishing landscape? Do you prefer to read the print or digital version of newspapers and magazines?
It totally enhanced it. It’s another medium. Everything in media has to be about what’s new, hot, and up and coming. Digital is all about that. I embrace it. Any print publisher who is ignoring it is not investing in their product.
What do you think distinguishes The Wall Street Journal Magazine from The New York Times Magazine?
Our luxury component; the success gene and ambition of our reader; and the magnitude of our reach distinguish us not only from The New York Times, but from all media. Also, we’ve solidified our position as a core fashion publication, which is evident in both our coverage and the marketers who run with us. This past year we made Adweek’s Hot List as Hottest Lifestyle Magazine; were named Luxury Daily’s Luxury Publisher of the Year; and earned multiple Clio Awards.
What efforts do you make to appeal to both the business and fashion readers, particularly in the magazine?
The magazine is multi-dimensional and appeals to the cultural interests of our global readership. For example, the recent Neymar cover has gotten a phenomenal response. It was internationally relevant and impactful as it combined fashion, current culture and news. My gut feeling is the US will be a strong contender for World Cup in the next 4 years.
Plus, I’ve been very fortunate working with the best editors throughout my career and Kristina O’Neill is the best yet. Our readership is learning from Kristina as am I.
You’ve been with the WSJ for 5 years. How has the magazine changed?
It’s gotten stronger and evolved into World’s Leading Luxury Magazine. When I arrived 5 years ago, we were publishing 4 issues a year distributed to select markets. Today, we publish 12 issues a year for The Wall Street Journal’s global audience. This October, we are launching WSJ. Brasil and WSJ. América Latina, offering the magazine in native languages for the first time.
You are known for always being impeccably dressed. Who are some of your favorite designers?
That’s a tough one – I have pieces from every designer brand. You will never see me in one brand from head to toe anything. In addition to being influenced by foreign travel, my magazine, social media, my social circles and our editors, I dedicate one weekend each month in NYC for visiting stores to see what’s trending and for buying.
I love clothes, shopping, and style. I would feel incomplete without them.
Socks, or no socks?
I would say my style is “classic with a twist” and love the no sock look. However, it’s like drinking gin or wearing white. No socks from Memorial Day to Labor Day then afterwards it’s up to the individual.