Adages - Hot off the smelter: a new hip-hop glossy for the gold-digging crowd

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Hip-hop is all about gold-gold chains, gold cars, gold teeth and soon there will be a gold magazine. Damon Dash, rap impresario, and Smokey D. Fontaine, former music editor at The Source, are launching a new title for mature-and wealthy-hip-hop followers called america, and several issues, according to publisher Jeff Jones, former Source associate publisher, will have gold-leaf covers.

"We are not playing around," says Jeff. "This is going to be a big, juicy, creamy luxury book, with gold-leafing on all three sides, just like the Bible, and like those leather bound collectors' editions of the classics."

The pub, an oversize 10-by-12 quarterly, will launch in February in a 40,000-issue, self-distributed first run that will be given away to trendsetters on a VIP list, and otherwise sold at select newsstands, in major airports and at bookstores. Cover price will be about $8.

Damon Dash is the deep pockets behind america.

"This is Smokey Fontaine's baby," Damon says. "He came to me with the idea. I was thinking about doing a magazine, and I was talking to people, feeling it out because I was aggravated with the magazines out there. He came in with a proposal for something for hip-hop individuals, like me."

Damon says america will not be associated with his Roc-a-fella music label or Rocawear fashion company. "I want people to know this will be objective. If there is someone from Roc-a-fella in the magazine, it will not be because of my doing. But I will make sure there will be beautiful women on every cover. And I'll probably show up at a couple of the shoots."

Smokey, meanwhile, wants to make sure that readers don't just judge his new book by its covers. He says that besides all the gold and gloss, america will also contain "longer, more meaningful and in-depth articles."

A hand-me-down tag line

The headline of a recent newspaper ad for the Mercedes-Benz C230 sport sedan reads: "If only there were a passing lane for the passing lane." That reminds us of a BMW Motorcycle headline from 2001: "If only the passing lane had a passing lane." Coincidence? Both were created by Merkley Newman Harty, New York. Did they give Mercedes a discount for the repurposed creative? Merkley's CEO Alex Gellert, hinting it was a coincidence, told Adages "we have a firewall and the firewall works." Calls last week to the two advertisers weren't returned by deadline.

DR. K, I presume?

Dr. James Kowalick is a former rocket scientist (actually, a corporate director of engineering at Aerojet General) who also used to sell Christmas trees for a living and organized dating conferences for lonely singles. Now he is an inventor who is about to offer Madison Avenue a new software program that will customize ad campaigns for target audiences. According to Dr. Kowalicki, his software product, Maximized Response Rate or MR2, can scientifically manipulate ad elements such as graphics, colors, and a campaign's sense of humor, to attract certain consumers. He and business partner Mario Fantoni, a former marketing executive for Oracle, say they have successfully tested the method in a direct-mail campaign. Check out their wares on Kowalick.com.

Contributing: Jean Halliday Send your gloss to rlinnett@crain.com

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