Fortune moves into wellness coverage under an expansive new financial deal with CVS

mental health

The business magazine and digital publisher Fortune is moving into the wellness space, with a new vertical aimed at helping mid-level managers balance their personal and professional lives. Called Fortune Well, the new hub goes live on April 28 and is underwritten by CVS, as part of a larger two-year deal that will support many parts of the publisher’s products.

CVS will be the hub’s sole advertiser — which will contain a mix of editorial and branded content, though a Fortune spokesperson could not confirm what the exact mix would be. CVS will distribute content from Fortune Well on their own platforms as well. The vertical will target managers who are also “caregivers,” taking care of children or aging parents or both, said Fortune CEO Alan Murray.

“More and more people are recognizing that success is a multi-layered effort that requires you to be healthy and well and of sound mind and the pandemic really made a lot of people pay more attention to that… We increasingly believe that success in life and success in business go hand in hand,” Murray said.

Murray declined to share specific details on how much CVS has committed to spend with Fortune through this deal. The deal with CVS is “one of the biggest” Fortune has landed, Murray said. The company declined to share just how big the deal is. Previously, software companies like Salesforce and Workday have paid to sponsor content hubs and franchises with Fortune, around topics like the return to work and the changes to the CFO role, with articles, newsletters, videos and event series.

Jennifer Fields is the new wellness deputy editor at Fortune and will oversee the vertical’s editorial content. Fields, who was previously executive editor of wellness and lifestyle at PopSugar, will hire up to 10 people this year for Fortune Well, including full-time staff and freelancers. This comes as Fortune editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell — who in September became the first woman to lead the business publication — has hired 30 editorial employees since December. In total, the company has hired around 50 people since then, representing about 25% of Fortune’s total headcount.

Fortune Well’s target audience of mid-level managers is a relatively new focus for Fortune, Shontell said, outside of its core readership of C-suite executives. “This will be more for that younger manager set that we haven’t historically gone for, but that Fortune is actively pursuing in our growth,” she said. Reaching this audience has become an “additional priority” for Fortune, as part of Shontell’s vision for the publication as the new editor (which includes a new Success section that went live in February aimed a new, mid-level and rising managers, supported by a team of reporters led by executive editor Lindsey Stanberry), a spokesperson said. 

The Washington Post’s upcoming wellness section — which will be edited by Tara Parker-Pope, who was previously founding editor of The New York Times’ consumer health section, Well — is also a bid to reach a broader, younger audience with service-oriented journalism. In February, the Post announced it would add 20 new positions to cover climate and extreme weather this year, as part of this push for younger readers.

While Fortune was previously producing some lifestyle coverage, Fortune Well will be a dedicated destination with a mix of articles, videos, infographics and rankings. It will have its own franchises, a section in the print magazine, videos and social handles. While content will begin publishing on a hub on Fortune’s website, Fortune Well will migrate to its own microsite within and have its own look and feel in July, once the tech infrastructure and editorial team are established.

To start, the two main coverage areas for Fortune Well will be around mental health and long COVID, or long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms, Fields said. Fortune Well will also cover balance, burnout, workplace wellness programs and other advice, such as how to choose a nursing home for an elderly parent.

As part of the deal, CVS Health will select some of its managers to become fellows of Fortune Connect, a membership community for mid-career professionals on track to becoming executives. Since launching in October 2020, Fortune Connect has worked with 50 companies and about 1,000 fellows, Murray said. With new revenue lines such as Fortune Connect, the company’s digital ad revenue has grown by 100% since last year and is projected to increase another 40% this year, Murray said. Digital ad revenue makes up about a third of Fortune’s total revenue, he added, and the company overall was profitable last year. Murray declined to share specific revenue figures.

CVS employees will also get complimentary subscriptions to Fortune. Fortune began offering some enterprise subscriptions to its advertising clients in the last year or so, Murray said. CVS will also be a sponsor of Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in 2023. (Aetna, the insurance company owned by CVS, had an ad in the first print edition of Fortune magazine in February 1930, Murray noted.)

Last year wellness publishers saw an increase in spending from advertisers outside of the health and wellness category. And some non-endemic publishers are moving into the wellness category. This latest initiative from Fortune comes in the same month The Washington Post announced it expects to debut a wellness section this summer, supported by a team of 20 people.

The addition of non-endemic publishers to the wellness category means brands have a lot of options when they are looking to spend around health and wellness content. In order to succeed, Fortune has to “carve out a very specific swim lane” to attract an audience, said Whitney Fishman Zember, managing partner of innovation and consumer technology at GroupM’s Wavemaker agency.

“Fortune isn’t going to replace Women’s Health magazine, but if they are focused on [covering] a long-term ailment or ways of saving money through health, there’s a certain angle,” she said.

As more media companies move into covering health and wellness, “consumers will find the sources they trust and can consistently rely on and invest in with their time, attention and money,” Fishman Zember said — and advertisers will want to work with publishers who can show “proven value and utility with the consumer first.”

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