CONDE NAST COULD PROFIT FROM REVLON EXIT FROM HEARST

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Magazine publishers are scrambling to reap a yearend bonanza thanks to Revlon's decision to pull an estimated $5 million in advertising worldwide from Hearst Corp. earlier this month.

Publishers also are waiting to see if other cosmetics giants-who have been outspending Revlon for years-will finally flex their financial muscle and shatter the traditional cosmetics rotation that has long guaranteed Revlon prominent placement in magazines.

Some publishing executives are betting K-III Communiations Corp.'s New Woman, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines' Elle and Meredith Corp.'s Ladies' Home Journal will reap gains but expect the lion's share to go to Conde Nast Publications.

New Woman Publisher Lori Zelikow Florio said Revlon would run about 30 ad pages with her magazine this year. "That's up dramatically, but most of it came in before the Hearst pull."

Some media buyers wonder if Revlon will simply pocket the money until 1995. Standard & Poor's recently lowered its rating for Revlon's $2.2 billion in debt from positive to negative, citing "disappointing operating performance since the 1993 refinancings and substantially slower-than-anticipated improvement from their other restructurings."

Revlon, which has disputed the ratings change and outlook, maintains the ad dollars will be spent elsewhere.

"The money allocated to Hearst-owned publications will be reallocated," a spokeswoman said. "Revlon will increase its advertising in current vehicles and is evaluating the possibility of advertising in new publications." She reaffirmed the marketer's policy is to advertise in publications that honor the rotation schedule.

For the first seven months of the year, Hearst titles carried 165.32 ad pages from Cosmair; 108.75 from Estee Lauder Inc.; and 41.93 from Revlon, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Conde Nast magazines had 245.94 pages from Cosmair; 204.51 from Lauder; and 52.01 from Revlon.

Conde Nast has already assured Revlon it will honor the rotation. But by the time 1995 ad budgets are reallocated, that could backfire.

Estee Lauder and Cosmair spend three to four times as much as Revlon on print campaigns. And Procter & Gamble Co.'s spending for cosmetics and fragrances is growing. As a result, pressure to bust the traditional lineup may be building.

"It is not fair to give the top position to someone who is not your top advertiser," said one ad agency executive with a major cosmetics account. "It is a constant tug-of-war with the magazines."

Despite the questions, Conde Nast President Steve Florio insists he won't change the rotation. "The official answer is that we'll continue to honor the traditional rotation."

But Conde Nast has been reserving the No. 1 ad slot in its run-of-magazine pages for Revlon, followed by Estee Lauder and Cosmair.

Revlon officials maintain they pulled their Hearst ads solely because of unhappiness over the publisher's rotation practices, although Hearst disputes that. Many industry executives believe a September Esquire article on Patricia Duff, Revlon Chairman-CEO Ronald Perelman's girlfriend, was the flashpoint.

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