'GQ' MILKS 'MEN OF YEAR' AWARDS WITH TIE-INS: SPECIAL ISSUE SPAWNS N.Y. EVENT, SPONSORSHIP DEALS FOR ADVERTISERS

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GQ's "Men of the Year" issue is fast becoming more of a marketing event than an editorial feature.

The awards program, in its second year, anchors the November issue of the Conde Nast Publications monthly. But that's just the start of a program that includes a live event with a title sponsor, a TV deal, advertiser tie-ins and ads designed to push newsstand sales.

VISA, MILLER & BOWIE

Visa USA will share the spotlight with host Dennis Miller and musical performer David Bowie at the Men of the Year awards ceremony, to be held Oct. 15 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Visa replaces American Express Co., last year's title sponsor.

The event, honoring 17 reader-selected winners, will air several times in October and November as a 2-hour special on VH-1.

The issue will carry 315 ad pages, said Publisher Richard Beckman, a 25.5% increase over the same issue last year, according to Publishers Information Bureau.

GQ is pursuing sponsors for a four-song David Bowie CD that would be polybagged with all newsstand copies of the issue.

To drive newsstand sales, radio ads created by No Soap Productions, New York, will air in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles promoting the issue. The awards ceremony will be advertised in the New York market via bus and radio ads, and print ads in The New York Times and Village Voice.

"Last year, there was enormous buzz generated from this issue and we didn't even promote it at newsstand," Mr. Beckman boasted. The title normally sells 297,660 copies per month at newsstands, but is distributing 700,000 copies of the November issue, he said.

EXPOSURE FOR ADVERTISERS

The event offers exposure to several other GQ advertisers. Men's wear designer Ermenegildo Zegna will present a special award to a celebrity "environmental leader," Mr. Beckman said. Audemars-Piguet is providing $20,000 watches for each winner, while Baccarat is again creating crystal sculptures to be presented to winners.

United Airlines is the official airline, providing transportation for winners and celebrity performers. Mercedes-Benz of North America is providing cars for

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