Relish, from the Publishing Group of America, becomes the second launch to offer advertisers brand integration in editorial content. Since TV Guide's Inside TV launched in April, it has offered "seamless" ads like sponsored polls about cover stories and logo placement in "Get This Look" boxes.
Advertisers have increasingly asked for print versions of branded entertainment, but are only now getting to sort through such explicit offers.
"Any sort of product integration in the print world is attractive when it's seamless, but it has to make sense," said John Faulkner, spokesman at Campbell Soup, noting that he was not familiar with Relish. "It's going to come down to who's reading it. If it's got an attractive enough target, we'll give it some consideration."
The integration goes against the spirit of the guidelines from the American Society of Magazine Editors, said Marlene Kahan, executive director at ASME. "It will be a violation of the future iteration of our guidelines."
Tracey Altman, VP-group publisher at the Publishing Group, said readers can handle it. "As long as your magazine is about entertaining and lifestyle, I don't think we should be held to the same standard as U.S. News & World Report," she said.
The Publishing Group believes Relish will work based on its experience with the company's first title, American Profile.
Since American Profile, a weekly magazine for rural markets that arrives inside local paid newspapers, was introduced in 2000, its distribution has grown from 1.3 million to 6.5 million, according to statements filed with BPA Worldwide. It ran 250.8 ad pages from January through June, up 6.2% over the same period last year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
IN THE PIPELINE
"The idea was always to use American Profile to build this pipeline," said Dick Porter, CEO at the Publishing Group.
The company plans for Relish to have a circulation of 6 million at its February launch, though it has not yet signed up a single newspaper or advertiser. The publisher has delivered prototypes and pitches to small papers as well as big owners like Community Newspaper Holdings in Birmingham, Ala., Freedom Communications in Irvine, Calif., and MediaNews Group in Denver.
"It might help in our food category if they could tie in some advertising with the chains that are here," said Brian Fantl, general manager of the Albuquerque Publishing Co.