Vogue editor Condé Nast apologizes after asking UK pub to change name

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Mark Graham, owner of a pub called Star Inn at Vogue, was opening his mail in March when he came across a letter that was classier than the rest. It was from a company called Condé Nast, which he had never heard of.

“Dear Sirs,” reads the March 1 letter signed by the company’s managing director: “Our company is the owner of the Vogue brand, not only for its world famous magazine first published in November 1916, but also for other goods and services. offered to the public by our company.

The letter said people could link the Graham’s pub to Condé Nast’s Vogue brand, and Graham should consider changing the name of his bar “to avoid problems arising”.

“My first reaction is that my customers were laughing,” Graham told The Washington Post.

But the pub owner looked into Condé Nast and realized the business – which publishes glossy magazines and made $2bn in revenue in 2021 – was real. And it became clear to Graham: “They were absolutely serious.”

Vogue is a village in the parish of St. Day, which has a population of around 4,500 in the county of Cornwall in south-west England. Graham said it’s a place where horses and sheep graze in open fields, and a stream runs past his pub. Everyone knows each other’s name in Vogue, Graham said, and they’ll say hello to each other even if they don’t.

Graham and his wife, Rachel, have owned and lived above the pub for 17 years, he said. Two of their children were born upstairs. When the couple first bought the business, he said, it was a “difficult transplant”, but they slowly built their campaign pub into a way of life. Locals come for its expertly poured beer and selection of pies. It is also a meeting place for local football and knitting clubs and for vintage car enthusiasts.

“We appreciate every minute,” Graham said.

Condé Nast’s letter, Graham suspected, was prompted by his registration of the Star Inn at Vogue as a limited liability company earlier this year. So two weeks after receiving the letter, Graham responded to Condé Nast.

“While I found your letter interesting on the one hand, I also found it hilarious on the other,” Graham wrote, adding, “If any member of your staff had taken the time to investigate, he would would have discovered that our business, the Star The Inn is in the small village of Vogue, near St. Day in Cornwall.

Graham wrote that his version of Vogue has been around for “hundreds of years” and that the town’s name derives not from the English word meaning “popular acceptance or favour” but rather from a Cornish word, which he said is The Post referred to a tin can. lodge. He wrote that he assumed Madonna hadn’t asked Condé Nast for permission to use the word in her 1990 hit “Vogue,” nor did “she ask our permission.”

“In response to your question about whether we were going to change our company name, it’s a definite NO,” Graham wrote, but he nonetheless invited company officials to come to Vogue for lunch and a beer offered by the house.

A Condé Nast spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s correspondence with Graham.

For a few months, Graham said, he received no response from the company. He hung up his letter and response for the amusement of the townspeople. Then this month a reporter from CornwallLive.com caught wind of the letters and published an article. Media around the world started calling.

It was only then that Graham heard of Condé Nast. In a letter dated May 13, a representative said the company was grateful “to hear more about your business in this beautiful part of our country.”

“I’m sure you’ll understand why we regularly monitor the use of the VOGUE name, including at Companies House (which is how we were alerted to your company name),” wrote Christopher P. Donnellan. “However, you are absolutely correct to note that further research by our team would have identified that we did not need to send such a letter on this occasion.”

Graham told the Post he was still slightly “vexed” by the situation and said it was a “case of a big multinational trying to trample the little guy.” He even considered starting a municipal publication called Vogue Magazine or taking Condé Nast to court to change it. his Last name.

But on Thursday the pub received a framed apology from the company, and Graham has since changed his tune.

“We could invite them to come and do a fashion shoot here,” Graham told the BBC. “We could both enjoy this mistake a bit and have a good laugh.”