New editor Keshnee Kemp making Cosmopolitan relevant again

New editor Keshnee Kemp aiming for the youth market

Keshnee Kemp

Bauer Media has been making the headlines frequently in recent times with the many changes in its senior ranks. Keshnee Kemp, the new editor of Cosmopolitan, joined Bauer Media in April 2017, when Nick Chan was still the CEO. Within about two months, the German publisher announced the departure of Chan and named the boss of Bauer Media New Zealand, Paul Dykzeul, as CEO of the company in Australia as well.

This was also followed by some movement of editors. However, these things did not faze Kemp. Her mission in her new role is to make the youth brand, which targets readers aged 18-34, relevant again.

Cosmo needed some work,” Kemp told Mediaweek. “We’d been left behind in terms of what Helen [Gurley Brown] wanted when she was the editor-in-chief of Cosmo in the US in the 60s. She set out to make some noise. It was about talking about things that women wanted to talk about, but they didn’t really have an outlet to do so. She was quite controversial at the time with the way she started conversations and spoke to women about sex and those sorts of things.

“When I joined, it felt like we were 10 years behind…so it was really important for me to bring it forward and make it modern again.”

The conversations that millennials are having currently are completely different from what they used to be 10 years ago, Kemp said. Australians aged 18-34 are more diverse and broad-minded in their conversations than ever before. “They are talking about same sex, transgender and all kinds of different things that other generations wouldn’t really have discussed. So we needed to revitalise our offering in terms of content. The pillars will remain the same but the content has been refreshed so that we can be starting conversations rather than following them.”

Doing this comes with its own challenges when appealing to the millennial generation, who can be further divided into categories based on their media consumption habits.

“There is a spilt audience of millennials now. There is no blanket description of what they look like,” Kemp said. “A part of that audience has adopted some of the digital Gen Z qualities and interests. They are a little bit more traditional. We are aiming at 18-34s. But we try to make sure that we are talking to both of those groups within the millennial umbrella.”

Three weeks into the new job, Kemp was on the set of a nude shoot that she’d commissioned for her first fully edited issue, which came out on 7 August.

“My poor team,” Kemp said. [Laughs] “I get here and three weeks later, we are shooting nude in a studio.

This is an excerpt of the full article, which appears in the latest issue of Mediaweek magazine. 

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