'TV Guide' updates image

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TV Guide next week unveils a $5 million teaser campaign to stoke interest in a coming redesign of the weekly magazine.

The print and outdoor effort, via independent Richards Group, Dallas, plays around with the image of a TV test pattern, while taglines adopt a notably more arch tone for the venerable-and somewhat faded-listings title. To wit: "We're back from rehab and ready to party."

"A good representation of the redefinition of the brand," said TV Guide Publishing Group President John Loughlin.

new look for logo

Another ad takes playful aim at the networks that advertise in, and are covered by, the magazine, with the words, "Imagine that. Something new this fall that will actually make it to next season." Each ad ends with the tagline, "The new TV Guide launches Sept. 8."

The redesign will bring significant change to the title, including, Mr. Loughlin said, a new look for the brand's indelible logo.

"We'd be well-served by a contemporization of the logo," said Mr. Loughlin, who hastened to add the redesign would "not radically" alter it.

The redesign will have more of an effect on the magazine's interior, which, aside from design tweaks, will see its editorial pages expanded and tone sharpened.

"There was a bit of a feeling among some people that the magazine didn't really have a voice or a point of view, didn't take too strong of a stand on anything," said Michael Lafavore, the title's new editor in chief, who promised "more voices" in his TV Guide.

TV Guide, under Mr. Loughlin, has substantially reworked its operations, replacing longtime editor Steven Reddicliffe with Men's Health veteran Mr. Lafavore, and bringing in publishing veteran Scott Crystal as exec VP-publisher.

The title needs the help. The supermarket-checkout fixture has seen circulation slump nearly 40% in a decade, although at 9.1 million it remains the nation's third-largest magazine by circulation. Its publicly traded parent company does not break out the magazine's performance, but its Media and Services, the lion's share of which is the magazine, posted revenue last year of $803 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $128 million. For the first half of this year, ad pages were flat at 1,189.

increasing newsstand

Mr. Loughlin previously told Ad Age that parent Gemstar-TV Guide-itself reeling from earnings restatements, successful legal challenges to key technology patents, and Securities and Exchange Commission indictments of its former top officers-had earmarked more than $20 million toward the changes. The company is also investing in a major push to expand newsstand circulation and gin up subscriptions via direct-mail drops "in excess of 20 million pieces," Mr. Loughlin said.

The campaign will appear in business-to-business titles, including Ad Age, and on outdoor boards in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

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