A-List Profile: CosmoGirl

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And then there were ... lots. Yup, five years ago the major titles in the teen category were Seventeen, Teen, and YM. Now Teen is gone, newly adopted Seventeen is undergoing a major makeover under Hearst Magazines, and there's a slew of new girls, including Teen Vogue and ElleGirl, in town. The standout: Hearst's CosmoGirl, with a powerful editorial product and ad story that earn it a spot on Advertising Age's A-List.

Launched in 1999, CosmoGirl has always had its eye on the numbers big sis racks up. "If you look at Cosmopolitan," says CosmoGirl Publisher Kristine Welker, "there's our road map."

CosmoGirl's ad page total of 504.5 through September is up 14% from a year ago, according to Publishers Information Bureau. Circulation of the 10-times-yearly magazine is on the rise, up 21.3% to 1.3 million for the first half, says the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Aggressive rate-base increases of about 25% per year have become status quo at CosmoGirl. "We get the strong existing ad group to pay for the rate base increases," Ms. Welker says, adding that half of all ad spending in the teen category comes from a group of 20 advertisers, and CosmoGirl gets 21% of those dollars.

Ms. Welker is looking for the next growth spurt to come from smaller advertisers. Although she stresses CosmoGirl won't offer discounts for buying both titles, Ms. Welker says Hearst will emphasize that between CosmoGirl and Seventeen the company catches the attention of 75% of teen girls.

The CosmoGirl team-and the magazine's advertisers-all agree: The title's key strength is its voice. In a word, CosmoGirl is about empowerment. Through initiatives like the get-an-internship Club 2024, "we actually give [readers] real opportunities, not model contests," says new Editor in Chief Susan Schulz. "It feels like a person, not a magazine."

empowering magazine

From the advertiser side, Jamie Gluck, VP-brand marketing at Hot Kiss, says the magazine's voice is "empowering and independent." Though the apparel marketer advertises across most of the teen titles, Hot Kiss runs most of its ad pages in CosmoGirl, which Mr. Gluck considers "synergistic" with his company's image.

Laurianne Murphy, director of media planning for Bonne Bell Cosmetics, another CosmoGirl advertiser, says it "gives every girl a chance to feel good about who she is, whether she's an athlete or into volunteering."

Because of the sexy reputation of big sister Cosmo, "We took a wait and see attitude [about CosmoGirl], and now we're completely on board," says George Janson, senior partner-director of print at WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia, New York. Mr. Janson, whose clients include Chanel and Masterfoods USA, adds that CosmoGirl seems "to take a holistic approach to the lives of teenagers [vs. the celebrity- and fashion-geared coverage of other titles]. They have dimensionalized the category."

The CosmoGirl team has been incredibly steady since the launch. The first big change was announced this summer after Hearst's acquisition of Seventeen from Primedia. CosmoGirl founding editor (and Helen Gurley Brown protege) Atoosa Rubenstein, moved to the larger, but faltering, Seventeen, and Ms. Schulz, then executive editor at CosmoGirl, got the nod to move up to the title's top edit spot.

A CosmoGirl staffer for three years, Ms. Schulz is good to go: "Yes, there are big shoes to fill, but I have a different taste in shoes, and they're just as cool."

The official pen-passing takes place in the November editor's letter. "The whole vibe was to point out to the reader that I've been there all along," says Ms. Schulz. "They do know me, they just don't know they know me."

Hot Kiss' Mr. Gluck isn't worried a bit about the change. "Atoosa's legacy for the book is the team she built," he says.

"Atoosa and I are friends, but even sisters are competitive," Ms. Schulz says. "I know she's going to make Seventeen great, and I'm going to make CosmoGirl even greater than it was before."

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