To hype consumer interest, the paper is running a three-month, $500,000 ad campaign from Arts & Crafts Productions, New York, with 15-second commercials on European outlets of CNN and NBC Super Channel.
By charging a premium price-$3 in London, $4 in Paris and $5 in the Middle East-the tabloid hopes to be profitable in its first year of publication.
"This is not an advertising-based publication," said publisher Hesh Kestin, a former European correspondent for Forbes. "We expect to make most of our money from circulation."
Daily rivals point out that it isn't an easy market to crack.
"There may be a [reader] market for it but I think distribution will be difficult and the competition for advertising in the local markets is tough," said Carolyn Vesper, senior VP-advertising of USA Today, which saw ad pages for its 67,712 circulation international edition drop 2.5% to 994 pages in 1995.
James Friedlich, VP-international sales and marketing for Dow Jones & Co., said about 70% to 80% of the 63,248 subscribers to Brussels-based Wall Street Journal Europe are now local readers-not traveling Americans. "It's really a European paper," he explained. In 1995, he said the paper's ad pages grew by 19.7% to 3,240.
The top-selling U.S.-owned overseas paper is the Paris-based International Herald Tribune, a 192,000 circulation daily that is a joint venture of the New York Times Co. and the Washington Post Co.
SUNDAY MARKET UNTAPPED
"The weekday market is fairly well developed but none of them publish on Sundays," Mr. Kestin said.
The American LLC is backed by a Paris-based venture capital partner as well as Mr. Kestin and several other European investors, who expect to spend $1 million to $5 million to launch the weekly title, say publishing executives.
Its backers are banking that Americans will carry their love of Sunday newspapers overseas.
One charter advertiser, Konica USA Director of Marketing Paul Gordon, thinks the paper can be an effective vehicle to reach traveling Americans. "I know when I'm traveling abroad, I'm always interested in news and sports from home," he said. "If The American can deliver it, they may have a hit on their hands."
The American will be edited out of Westhampton Beach, N.Y., with Lew Serviss, formerly senior editor at New York Newsday, as editor in chief. The 40-page tabloid will cover news, sports and entertainment but not business/financial news and will distribute 50,000 copies from print plants in London and Frankfurt.
If the rollout goes smoothly, Mr. Kestin plans to expand into Asia and/or Latin America within two years, which would help him spread his costs. "It's just opening another print site," he said. "It's the same material. You're just maximizing profit."