REVAMPS FOR 'SPORT,' 'TEEN' AS PETERSEN ADDS EXECS: ADS FROM LANDEY IN THE WORKS AS MPA EXECUTIVE GUTHRIE TAKES MARKETING POST

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The new owners of Petersen Publishing Co. are aiming to raise the company's profile with the recruitment of three highly visible publishing executives and planned relaunches of Sport and 'Teen.

Also, Petersen has signed its first agency of record in years.

Justin McCormack, one-time exec VP of Marvel Entertainment, joins the company today as president of Petersen Enterprises. On April 7, James Guthrie, exec VP-marketing development of the Magazine Publishers of America, comes aboard as exec VP-marketing.

PERKINS HEADS SPORTS UNIT

And as expected, Polly Perkins, founder and publishing director of Sports Traveler, has joined Petersen as president of its newly formed Sports Group, which includes Sport and three annuals: Bob Griese's College Football Yearly, Dick Vitale's College Basketball Yearbook and Richard Petty's Stock Car Magazine (AA, March 10).

Petersen also is in negotiations to acquire Ms. Perkins' Sports Traveler, a lifestyle magazine aimed at active, affluent women.

"We're finalizing negotiations for the acquisition," Ms. Perkins said.

One hurdle: Ms. Perkins is embroiled in a legal battle against Conde Nast Publications in which she claims that Conde Nast Sports for Women infringed on her trade dress in its promotional and marketing ideas.

After failing to come to a settlement in court-ordered arbitration last year, the lawsuit resumes with a pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court in New York on March 20.

Conde Nast, which plans to introduce its new magazine this August, claims the lawsuit is groundless and an attempt by Ms. Perkins to thwart competition.

Ultimately, it may not matter. If Petersen takes over the new title, it may reposition to a broader-based audience than just women, said to Neal Vitale, Petersen's chief operating officer.

AUG., SEPT. RELAUNCHES

Company President-CEO Claeys Bahrenburg said Petersen plans to relaunch 'Teen in August and Sport in September, with major redesigns accompanied by print and outdoor campaigns from Landey & Partners, Grounds Morris, New York.

The agency also was named agency of record for a corporate print campaign expected to kick off in May, aimed at highlighting Petersen's database of 50 million male sports enthusiasts.

Estimated spending for the campaign is expected to be more than $1 million.

IPO PLANNED

The company, purchased in September for $450 million from founder Robert Petersen by a group that included Avy Stein & Partners, Dunning Group and current management, is hoping to sell some of its stock in an initial public offering-possibly as early as the fourth quarter of '97 or the first quarter of '98.

"We feel our individual magazines are well-known by consumers and endemic advertisers," said Mr. Bahrenburg. "Our primary aim is to raise our profile with the big national advertisers with major promotions and marketing programs."

Mr. Guthrie was president of ad agency John Emmerling Inc., New York, before he moved to the MPA nearly a decade ago. He handled accounts including Money and Discover.

'GROWTH AREA'

Of his decision to leave MPA, he said, "Petersen is built on special-interest publications and that's been the real growth area for magazines over the past five years."

Mr. McCormack will be in charge of licensing deals, international editions and

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