"I wanted something that sounded like dialogue, an exchange of ideas," she said of the unusual title for Time Inc. Ventures' new teen magazine that makes its debut today with a test issue. She also wanted something that was "sexy without being overtly sexual."
Although it's too early to tell if the first issue-featuring Shaquille O'Neal and Cindy Crawford together on the cover-will hit the mark with its target audience of 15- to 19-year-olds, it has already passed muster with the top brass at the parent company.
Time Inc. Ventures last week approved a second test issue that will increase Mouth2Mouth distribution from 250,000 to at least 300,000. The second issue goes on sale Aug. 15, with a July 1 ad closing date. The magazine is scheduled to publish six times in 1995 if it's successful.
Ms. Harrington, 30, a fast talker with a blond mane and California-girl looks, created the entertainment-oriented magazine three years ago, then sold the concept to Time Inc. Ventures on two basic principles: that today's teens don't recognize a gender barrier and are extremely sophisticated, visually driven media consumers.
"My teen-agers are media-aware," said Ms. Harrington, who insisted the magazine's editorial office be in Beverly Hills instead of New York because "what kids are interested in .*.*. all emanates from Los Angeles at this point."
The first issue includes a journal of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' river rafting vacation; a first-person account by Amy Fisher on the perils of obsession in a relationship; and a visual feature on the top 15 car crashes in movie history.
Regular sections will include "Midnight With ... ," a middle-of-the-night celebrity visit; "My Favorite T," a pictorial of celebrities in their favorite T-shirts; and "View to a Room," a snapshot of a reader's bedroom.
"You'll get visual whiplash reading it," boasted Ms. Harrington, a former Vanity Fair staffer and daughter of heavyweight literary agent Mort Janklow.
In keeping with that image, the magazine will be marketed with MTV: Music Television-style promotions, giving readers a chance to participate in events like a scavenger hunt to find Shaquille O'Neal's basketball or a bandanna owned by Axl Rose. Ms. Harrington also believes there are licensing and merchandising opportunities for the magazine's double-lipped logo.
The test issue is 132 pages, with 43 pages of advertising. Marketers in the first issue include Bausch & Lomb, Reebok International, Pepsi-Cola Co., Levi Strauss & Co., Warner Bros., TriStar Pictures and the U.S. Coast Guard. Ad rates are $4,160 for a b&w page and $5,200 for a color page.
Carol Smith, president-publisher of Time Inc. Ventures' Parenting Group, is publisher of Mouth2Mouth and oversees ad sales.
On the print side, M2M can expect to face stiff competition from teen titles such as female-oriented Seventeen, YM and Sassy, as well as the male-oriented Dirt .