Barbara Smith doesn't want to be known as Barbara, and she doesn't want to be known as the "Black Martha Stewart." Just refer to her as B., as in B. Smith, the restaurant-owning, book-writing, TV show-hosting, magazine-editing lifestyle guru.
The restaurants, books and TV shows already are established entities in her burgeoning empire. Her new magazine, B. Smith Style, a joint venture with American Express Publishing Co., bows in October as a one-issue newsstand test.
Marketers, it seems, aren't waiting around for an invitation to advertise in Ms. Smith's latest venture. Sales materials to promote B. Smith Style aren't even done yet, and commitments for 57 ad pages are already in hand, according to Dan Gasby, the magazine's publisher and Ms. Smith's husband.
"Advertisers really seem to get the concept of what B. Smith Style is going to represent, which is casual elegance," said Mr. Gasby.
Marketers with insertion orders ready for the holiday-themed issue include Colgate-Palmolive Co., Kraft Foods, Lenox, Nicole Miller, Procter & Gamble Co., Revlon, Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Pharmoton.
General Motors Corp. is close to committing, added Mr. Gasby, who will continue to sell ad pages through August.
With 200,000 copies slotted to hit newsstands on Oct. 26, B. Smith Style will have a cover price of $3.95.
A color page ad costs $6,800.
Ms. Smith, who wants to attract a multicultural audience mirroring her TV-show demographics, sees a gap between Essence and Martha Stewart Living that the new title can fill.
"B. is coming from a different perspective, but it's not just one shared by African-American women," said Mr. Gasby. "It's directed at all women. B. represents the woman next door, and now she's going to be the magazine editor next door showing you how to live in a stylish, elegant but not unattainable way."
Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.