The test issue of Marie Claire's U.S. edition came off without an apparent hitch, reaping 131 ad pages and distribution of 700,000 copies. But the next issue will be minus one advertiser thanks to a spat between top Hearst brass and Revlon, which yanked all magazine and TV advertising from Hearst Corp., estimated at up to $5 million.
And the magazine development unit that fostered the company's latest fashion and beauty book may face an uncertain future.
A fiefdom of Good Housekeeping Editor in Chief John Mack Carter, the vaunted group that created Victoria, Colonial Homes and Country Living is believed to have no other projects in the pipeline as Hearst Magazines President Claeys Bahrenburg pushes for another way of hatching titles.
Under Mr. Bahrenburg's new austerity regime, the group has slowly trimmed personnel and projects in the past year. Said one insider, "There's no open personal friction, but I think there is a conflict in the company over whether there should be a separate magazine development group."
Notably, the company has yet to name a replacement for Magazine Development Editor Curtiss Anderson, who retired last year. In addition, the plug has been pulled on a weekly sports title tied into ESPN (AA, May 16).
A Hearst spokeswoman said: "Magazine development is very much alive at Hearst as it has been for years."
But another insider said: "There is very little activity in the group. The weekly sports magazine was the last vestige of John's new-magazine empire. Claeys wants outside people to come in and do projects."
Mr. Bahrenburg seems to favor joint efforts. That method recently produced Marie Claire, in partnership with Paris-based Marie Claire Album, and SmartMoney, a venture with Dow Jones & Co.
With Marie Claire, it was Mr. Bahrenburg who seemed to take the lead. After the French company's early talks with Cahners/Reed Publishing USA collapsed, he initiated talks for Hearst. Mr. Bahrenburg also recruited Bonnie Fuller from YM for the editor in chief spot, moving aside Mr. Carter's choice of Catherine Ettlinger.
Both Messrs. Carter and Bahrenburg are looking to claim credit for Marie Claire, a longtime success in France that is establishing a new niche for Hearst in the U.S. by going up against Glamour, Self and Allure. The upmarket title targets college-educated women ages 25-44, and combines fashion and beauty with women's service.
If Marie Claire does succeed, it should give Hearst added leverage in luring back Revlon.
What prompted the Revlon pullout remains a hotly debated topic. Hearst's spin is that Revlon Chairman Ronald Perelman turned ugly when he got word the September Esquire was carrying a not so flat-tering story on his girlfriend, Democratic power broker Patricia Duff.
His revenge: no more ads in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Marie Claire and Harper's Bazaar, the six Hearst British titles and its five U.S. TV stations.
A high-ranking Hearst executive said Mr. Perelman also threatened to sue if the story wasn't pulled. It wasn't.
Revlon insiders maintain the two had been "duking it out for the last 21/2 years" over Hearst's refusal to stick to a time-honored cosmetics advertising rotation giving Revlon equal access to the lead ad position, along with Estee Lauder Cos. and Cosmair. Conde Nast Publications picks up the pages Hearst lost.
Through July, Revlon ran 41.93 ad pages in Hearst (to Cosmair's 156.23) and 52.01 pages in Conde Nast titles, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Cosmetics executives and their agencies don't buy Revlon's spin.
"A month ago, a top Hearst executive was saying how great Revlon was and that they would be spending a lot soon," said one cosmetics executive. "He was warned Revlon is not loyal. There is no question that it was the article on Patricia Duff."