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'TALK' OF THE TOWN: WORD OF MOUTH: BIG PLANS FOR NEW TITLE INCLUDE HOME-VIDEO SPOT, LIMITS ON ADS

By Published on .

This summer, folks snapping up the home video version of Miramax's "Shakespeare in Love" or "Life Is Beautiful" will see more than Oscar-winning performances. Along with the usual previews of upcoming releases, viewers will be treated to a 1-minute spiel on Miramax Films' latest joint venture: Talk.

Known inside Talk Media as the "Tina Rap," the commercial features Editor in Chief Tina Brown expounding about her new magazine, set for launch in September.

"A new century needs a new magazine and a new voice," Ms. Brown says in the video.

The ad is just one of the marketing ploys planned to introduce Ms. Brown's latest venture. She and her partner, Ron Galotti, Talk Media's president and publisher, outlined their marketing plans last week in an exclusive interview with Advertising Age.

To support Talk's ambitious 500,000-circulation launch plans, an aggressive subscription campaign is about to begin. The "Tina Rap" will appear on every upcoming Miramax home video release; subscription cards inserted in the videos bought by consumers will number 30 million.

In addition, Talk Media's newest partner, Hearst Magazines, plans a nationwide newsstand promotion in airport terminals, bookstores and other major retail chains. A multimillion-piece direct-mail campaign to solicit subscriptions starts in June. Hearst will handle Talk's circulation and distribution.

AD RESTRICTIONS

Unlike most new magazines scrambling for every ad page, Talk has no interest in packing the first issue with an unlimited number of ads, Mr. Galotti said.

"We didn't want to have 300 ad pages in the first issue, and then 20 in the fourth," he said.

Advertising is restricted to 100 pages for the first four issues, and no inserts will be accepted. Individual advertisers are limited to no more than four pages each issue, and must commit to the first four issues.

A color page is $42,000.

Ms. Brown favors the restriction of advertising.

"It's distracting for the reader," said Ms. Brown. "You don't get a real portrait of the magazine that way, and the editorial has to fight all that to get noticed."

Advertisers have mixed reactions to the upfront four-issue buy.

"By limiting the amount of pages, it gives me as an advertiser a chance to get the focus on my particular product," said Charles V. Mangano, senior director of brand management for Merrill Lynch & Co. "It's tough sometimes to break through the clutter, so this is a nice opportunity to have your message read."

He has not yet committed, but is considering the buy.

Others are either confused by the demand to commit to four issues or are viewing it as unrealistic.

SKEPTICAL AD BUYERS

"If they are so confident that the publication is the right one, they shouldn't require that," said Cynthia Jensen, VP-associate media director at Y&R Advertising, Los Angeles, also considering making a buy for client Lincoln Mercury Co.

"Everyone is interested, but it's a big ask," said Ian Beavis, marketing communications manager for the Ford Motor Co. unit. "It's halfway through the budget year. If we were to go in, it would be in addition to what we are doing, not substitutional. It's not always an easy task to find more money."

As for the look of the magazine, Ms. Brown said she wants it to be unlike any other in the U.S. Her model is Germany's Stern, a glossy, saddle-stitched, rotogravure magazine.

A saddle-stitched publication cannot accommodate an unlimited number of pages the way a perfect-bound one can.

Talk is planning to occasionally switch to perfect-bound for certain issues, such as a planned September 2000 fashion-focused one, Ms. Brown said.

COVER PRICE: $2.95

Ten issues are planned for 2000, with a December/January issue at the end of this year and a June/July next year. The magazine will cost $2.95 on the newsstand.

Ms. Brown said she plans to distinguish Talk from the rest of the pack by focusing on "news from the source." While not every story will be the first time a reader is hearing about the subject, she does promise every story will offer insights unlike any other.

The idea of articles in Talk sparking projects in other media is still in the plan, said Ms. Brown. But both she and Mr. Galotti said the magazine is primary in the first year.

"If we don't have a magazine that works, none of the other parts are going to work," Ms. Brown said, though adding that Talk Media signed its first deal with an unidentified writer to produce an article, a screenplay and a promise of first dibs on book rights.

FIRST CREATED FROM SCRATCH

Talk is the first magazine Ms. Brown has created from scratch. She is credited with reviving U.K. title Punch and, later, Conde Nast Publications' Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

Given her prowess as an editor, and the alliances she has formed to produce the title, Talk is surpassing John F. Kennedy Jr.'s George as the most anticipated magazine launch of the decade.

"Go back to all the commotion last August and you'll see that everything has unfolded just as we said it would, from the role of Miramax to finding a major

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