'Jane' Opts for Face-to-Face Approach

Sales Staff Attach Video Clips to Proposals

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Sales staffers usually don't have to worry about being camera ready, but they do if they work at Jane. The ad sales staff at the Conde Nast Publications title have started pitching its clients by video, attaching clips to proposals as cover letters meant to secure some extra attention.
One of the fresh faces of 'Jane' making her pitch.
One of the fresh faces of 'Jane' making her pitch.

The videos don't cheat -- there are no special effects, celebrity cameos or MTV-style quick cuts. But they do put the very fresh faces of Jane's staff on camera, offering marketers and buying agencies a little more entertainment than their work usually affords.

"Steve, hi, it's Andrea with Jane," begins a clip from Andrea Tallent, European fashion manager, sent to H&M. "It was so good to see you yesterday at lunch."

Clutter-cutting effort
Aside from clutter-cutting, the videos work because people communicate with body language, tone of voice and expressions that can't be conveyed with text alone, said Carlos Lamadrid, who has been VP-publisher, Jane, since last November.

The moment may also be right. "Jane went through a redesign with the March issue, so we're trying to make as much noise as possible," Mr. Lamadrid said. Jane also, of course, witnessed the exit of founding editor, namesake and avatar Jane Pratt in September, which led to some staff turnover and the arrival of Elle Girl's Brandon Holley as editor in chief.

The title soon sent video iPods loaded with clips of Ms. Holley to about 50 key fashion clients, but the transition hasn't been perfectly smooth: the title only secured 69 ad pages in the first quarter, down 43.4% from first-quarter 2005, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. So trying a new sales approach certainly seems like a good idea.

Advertisers' wait-and-see stand
Mr. Lamadrid attributed some of the decline to a wait-and-see stand taken by advertisers after Ms. Pratt left and before the redesign arrived. "The second half is looking better," he said. "We're still off, but starting with May, we're over the corporate projections. We'll probably end up flat with last year, because the second half is looking very strong."

Jane has sent out about 15 video sales pitches and has received very positive reactions, Mr. Lamadrid said.

"Adorable!!" wrote Amanda McCormick, director-marketing, Michael Kors USA, in an e-mail provided to Advertising Age by Jane. "I love the video -- so cute and definitely memorable."

A media planner at Kenneth Cole Productions also seemed enthused. "You're a natural on camera," she wrote. "Definitely a good idea and the first of its kind that we've seen. We will review the merch proposal and get back to you."

Mr. Lamadrid acknowledged that the video pitches' novelty and effectiveness won't last forever. "Will we be doing this a year from now exactly the same way?" he said. "Probably not."
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