What’s makes a brand? Is it the product, the marketing or the people behind the brand? Did you know that Ebony and Jet Magazines have been sold and Howard University Television is up for sale? None of us know the exact equation of what makes a brand popular or long lasting but history has shown us repeatedly that when an established brand is sold to a new owner the brand changes. The changes may at first be so unnoticeable that they don’t even register on your radar. What remains to be seen are whether the changes will be for the better or not.
After 71 years Johnson Publishing has announced that they have sold not only Ebony but Jet Magazine as well. When Ebony was first released in 1945 the magazine was such a hit that it had no trouble selling out of the initial 250,000 copies printed. Ebony was Johnson’s second publication, following The Negro Digest.
“I can confirm that Ebony has been sold,” Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers told the New York Post. “It allows Johnson Publishing to reduce its debt associated with the media company and focus on the growth of its cosmetics business.” The cosmetic company in question is Fashion Fair Cosmetics which is a brand the publishing company launched in 1973. The makeup line was named after the fashion show that inspired it a few years prior. Johnson Publishing is working to make the cosmetic line a household name.
Johnson Publishing was founded in 1942 by John H. Johnson in Chicago with a $500 loan from his mother. The two iconic Black magazines have been sold to Clear View Group, a Texas-based private equity firm. Thankfully with this sale Jet and Ebony continue to be Black owned businesses, unlike Essence which had been owned by Time Inc. since 2005.
Clear View Group plans to continue to publish Ebony
“We made this purchase because this is an iconic brand — it’s the most-recognized brand in the African-American community,”Michael Gibson, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Clear View Group has said. “We just think this is a great opportunity for us.” Gibson continued, “It’s a dream come true. Growing up, we had Ebony and Jet in our household…You knew you made it when you made it to the cover of Ebony or Jet. It is just exciting.”
Jet magazine has not been published in print for the last two years after a decline in sales. Clear View Group did not purchase Ebony’s photo archives, those are still up for sale.
News also broke that after 35 years, Howard University is off putting WHUT the nation’s first and only Black-owned public television station up for sale. The sale of channels 32 and 32.2 could garner the university between $185 million to $500 million.
While many are concerned about the possible sale Howard University’s President, Wayne A.I. Frederick issued a memo saying in part,
“Howard University must consider the significant financial opportunity presented with the Spectrum Auction. At the same time, we will consider the value that WHUT adds to the experiential learning opportunities for students and faculty of our School of Communications and College of Engineering, and the program and public service opportunities we provide to WHUT through our loyal viewers.”
In 2015 The Washington Post reported that there were only 10 Black-owned television stations in the United States. WHUT is the only public television station. These sales are major to the Black community and I hope people understand the significance, I can only hope the integrity of these institutions in the Black community remain.