U.S. edition of 'Maxim' taps Conde Nast ad execs

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Maverick British publisher Felix Dennis has raided Conde Nast Publications' top ad sales people for the U.S. edition of Maxim, the hot British men's magazine slated to launch here next spring.

Lance Ford, has been tapped as publisher. The former associate publisher of Conde Nast's Bon Appetit is bringing with him Carolyn Kremins, the title's ad director, as associate publisher.

Since its U.K. launch 18 months ago, Maxim has reached circulation of 113,000--considered a huge hit there. The U.S. edition plans to launch with 350,000 copies as an every-other-month entry. Ad rates have not yet been set.

NO NUDE WOMEN

Steve Colvin, president of Dennis Publishing, said the U.S. magazine will not include nude women. Instead, he bills it as a men's service magazine. "We'll be covering sex, sports, relationships and humor but we won't be a sex book. It will be real-world stuff."

Taking on established industry giants is nothing new for Mr. Dennis, one of the 100 richest people and the fourth-largest publisher in the U.K.

Currently, the only property that Mr. Dennis owns in the U.S. is Blender, a 2-year-old CD-ROM title that has been a critical success, with advertisers including Calvin Klein, Nike and Coca-Cola Co.

Earlier, he launched the U.S. title MacUser and sold it to Ziff-Davis Publishing Co. in 1986. He currently publishes MacUser and Computer Shopper in the U.K. (Although Ziff-Davis publishes U.S. versions of the same titles, there is no official affiliation between the two.)

Greg Jarboe, Ziff director of communications, said Mr. Dennis is a "throwback to the publishers from the old school. He's a good competitor but competing with him is like playing rugby--it's a full contact sport."

The newly recruited ad executives may soon be going head to head with their one-time employer. Conde Nast next spring plans to test a one-shot called Personal Best--aiming for a niche between Details and Gentlemen's Quarterly.

That's just one of several new men's titles on the horizon. Insiders said Spin Publisher Bob Guccione Jr. was in Italy last week showing a prototype to top executives at Rizzoli regarding a planned U.S. introduction of their Max early next year from Mr. Guccione's Camouflage Media.

'BEGINNING OF ACTION'

Said Terry McDonell, publisher and editor in chief at Sports Afield, "There's so much potential in the men's field I think this is just the beginning of the action."

But getting the formula right is not always easy.

Mr. McDonell, in fact, earlier edited critically acclaimed Smart, but it fell victim to the fiscal problems of Owen Lipstein's mini-media empire. Hearst pulled the plug on Esquire Gentleman last year, citing high paper costs.

But the attraction to the market remains. Rodale Press created a runaway hit with the red-hot Men's Health. Through July, ad pages are up 19.7% to 408.4, said Publishers Information Bureau.

Copyright September 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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