Fairchild, Conde Nast try Power Buy

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A new advertising partnership between Fairchild Publications' business-to-business magazines and corporate sibling Conde Nast Publications' consumer titles could raise concerns among advertisers that the publishing giants will work in tandem on all dealings.

Until, that is, they hear what Fairchild executives have to say.

The new partnership leverages complementary trade and consumer publications under the Advance Publications umbrella. Called Power Buy, it is a play on Conde Nast's Super Buy programs, to which three Fairchild titles will be added for 2001. Under the new program, participating Fairchild trade magazines will buy special-section space for their advertisers in Conde Nast magazines. To qualify, Fairchild advertisers must increase their advertising commitments. Conde Nast, in turn, will make equivalent dollar commitments for its advertisers in Fairchild trade titles.

HOME-FURNISHING TRADES

The program will start with two home-furnishing trades at Fair-child -- the housewares newsweekly HFN and just launched monthly furniture-trends title In Furniture. They will buy space in about 100,000 copies of demographic editions of Bride's, House & Garden and Gourmet.

"The way it works," said Mike DeBartolo, VP-group publisher of Fairchild's B2B division, "is our customers who strengthen their presence in HFN or in In Furniture gain presence in advertising sections that we buy" in the Conde Nast titles.

Mr. DeBartolo said no specific levels are required of Fairchild advertisers to qualify for the Power Buy. "Either a larger schedule or a participation in a special issue," he said. "We haven't put down ironclad guidelines -- we want publishers and customers to agree" on increased ad levels on a case-by-case basis.

MORE THAN 20 ADVERTISERS

More than 20 HFN and In Furniture advertisers are already involved, Mr. DeBartolo said, including Conair Corp.'s Cuisinart, Maytag Corp.'s Hoover, and furniture manufacturers Nicoletti and Ladd Furniture's Clayton-Marcus.

The first Fairchild-purchased section in a Conde Nast title will appear in House & Garden in the first quarter of next year. The special sections in Gourmet and Bride's will appear later in the year.

"The unique selling proposition," said Mary Berner, Fairchild's president-CEO, "is the ability to package consumer and trade" magazines to "sell-in" on the trade side and "sell-through" on the consumer side. "It's the full cycle of what marketing's about."

Two media buyers had different reactions to the program, with one expressing interest in the enhanced opportunities it offers and the other voicing concerns that the Fairchild/Conde Nast powerhouse concentrates too much media weight under one roof.

"Many times clients want to reach the trade [segment] over the shoulder of the consumer and vice versa," said Melissa Pordy, senior VP-director of print services at Zenith Media, New York. "This is a nice artery" running between the two groups.

"It is a little scary, let's put it that way," countered John Frierson, president of Frierson Mee & Partners, New York. "As the media companies consolidate, generally speaking, you feel you have less options to negotiate . . . It used to be magazines approached you with an eye toward stealing share" from competitors.

Fairchild executives said the publishing group may look for similar opportunities with other media companies as well.

OPEN TO PARTNERSHIPS

"We are open to these kinds of partnerships outside of Advance," said Mr. DeBartolo. He floated the hypothetical scenario of a similar partnership involving Fairchild's Supermarket News and Hachette Filipacchi Magazines' Woman's Day, or Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's Family Circle. Those titles "have a lot of clout with consumer package-goods companies," he said.

Ms. Berner had a quick competitive answer to one big question -- whether Fairchild would combine its fashion trades with Conde Nast's consumer titles. "If we did that, we'd do that internally," she said, citing Fairchild's own consumer fashion titles, W and Jane.

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