First Issue of Newspaper-Distributed Food Title Carries Eight-Plus Ad Pages

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The first issue of Relish, the monthly newspaper supplement that made waves last summer when its publishers said it would sell brand mentions within its editorial pages, has arrived without any such placements.
Paid-placement, says President-CEO Dick Porter, is "still on the table."
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The 20-page issue (including covers) does include eight-and-a-half ad pages from marketers including Campbell Soup, Weight Watchers and Dell, but its recipes and staff-recommended products are pure editorial.

'Still on the table'
“That’s OK for us,” said Dick Porter, president-CEO, the Publishing Group of America, which created Relish and already publishes another newspaper ride-along, American Profile. “At launch it’s really about getting into the system.” As for paid placement in editorial, a big no-no at the American Society of Magazine Editors, Mr. Porter said: “It’s still on the table.”

Relish may yet find some takers, not just because some advertisers want to explore the idea -- Campell Soup said in July that it would consider such deals if they were seamless and reached an attractive enough audience. The magazine has also overdelivered in its debut, signing up more than 300 newspapers to carry it for a total distribution above 6.8 million.

Rate base increase
“We sold against a rate base of 6 million,” Mr. Porter said, which means its first advertisers received extra exposure to the tune of 800,000 copies. The magazine will now raise its rate base -- the circulation that publishers guarantee to advertisers -- to 6.8 million and consider raising it again in the fall.

Relish also lends new heat to the newspaper supplement category, which lacks the buzz and prestige of, say, Vogue. Goliaths Parade and USA Weekend have been slugging it out for more than 20 years (longer if you count Family Weekend, which Gannett bought and renamed USA Weekend in 1985). Parade has a distribution of 34.2 million, while USA Weekend distributes 22.2 million copies. But the Publishing Group added American Profile to the mix in 2000, successfully targeting underserved rural markets (mainly C and D counties) to build distribution to 6.5 million. Then Time Inc. brought Life back as a newspaper supplement in 2004, receiving mixed reviews but achieving distribution of 12 million.

To keep the Relish brand in front of readers in between monthly issues, the magazine is offering additional content to its host newspapers to run as columns. Its publisher also hopes to capitalize on its arrival on Wednesdays, a day on which many papers run expanded food editorial and advertising.

Like any new publication these days, Relish may spread beyond its origin on the printed page. Its Web site is live and offers electronic newsletters; Mr. Porter said he believes the brand will eventually enter TV and book publishing as well.

“The sooner we get the consumer totally engaged with the brand the better,” he said.

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