The lively weekly has created a new market for more colorful news magazines aimed at a younger audience.
New entries range from Gruner & Jahr's Tango, the most sensational of the lot introduced Sept. 29 with stories about Princess Diana, Fidel Castro and why women with small breasts are more successful, to Heinrich Bauer Verlag's more heavyweight entry, tentatively titled Fire and set for a January debut. Bauer awarded McCann-Erickson, Hamburg, the $13 million launch account in October.
Tango kicked off with a $10 million campaign by DDB Needham, Duesseldorf, using the slogan "Buy, read, talk about it" in print ads and TV spots.
Further crowding the category will be Axel Springer Verlag's spring introduction of a German version of News, its hot Austrian news magazine.
All of Germany's major publishers have been spurred on by the success of Focus, which in its second year has already sold more ad pages than venerable Der Spiegel, for decades Germany's only news magazine. During the first 10 months of 1994, Focus ran 4,658 ad pages, beating Der Spiegel, with 4,355. Der Spiegel lost 563 ad pages compared with the same period in 1993 while Focus gained 2,014.
But overall ad spending in magazines fell last year in Germany by 4.8% to $2 billion, raising questions about whether so many new challengers will lead to a boom in advertising or a just a lot of failed magazines.
"The rollout of the new entries could send ad sales for magazines soaring," said Jens Putze, CEO-regional director, Central Europe, for Zenith, Frankfurt, Saatchi & Saatchi Co.'s media buying unit.
But others have a different view. "I very much fear these new entries could lead to publishing houses granting discounts not mentioned in their rate card," said Kurt Otto, manager marketing communication, Der Spiegel. "Under no condition will we grant extra discounts."
Much of Focus' quick growth to a circulation of 605,919 came from enticing people who didn't normally buy the staid Der Spiegel to try the zippier Focus.
Tango hopes for similar results.
"Our goal is to reach a circulation of 500,000 very soon," said Jens de Buhr, marketing manager at Gruner & Jahr's Berliner Verlag subsidiary, responsible for Tango. "We hope to find 80% new readers who have not yet bought any news magazines."
He said he thinks the other 20% will switch from existing magazines like Focus and Der Spiegel.
However, Der Spiegel is not idly awaiting further erosion of its advertising and circulation base by rivals. Der Spiegel dumped its agency, Springer & Jacoby, Hamburg, and appointed Lintas to help develop a new global communication strategy to boost the magazine's image and newsstand and subscription sales.