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Readers of The Wall Street Journal responded with "irrational exuberance" in November when the paper's weekend section recommended a particular cabernet sauvignon. The California vintner sold out across the country.

Similarly, when the section's "Catalog Critic" listed a $150 Yashica T4 camera as a "best buy," direct marketer B&H sold out its supply in one week.

One year after the Journal launched the "Weekend Journal," its entertainment and lifestyle section, readers and marketers have responded enthusiastically. The section, introduced last March, is well ahead of plan; it has already turned a profit and amassed nearly $20 million in gross ad revenues, said Paul Atkinson, The Wall Street Journal VP-advertising.

"It's not a major driver of our business, but it's a nice thing to have," said Mr. Atkinson, noting the daily paper rakes in nearly $1 billion in ad sales annually.


Advertisers well outside the Journal's usual technology and financial mainstay categories have embraced the weekend section, which is distributed on Fridays.

Just this month, Chanel added the section to its overall media plan-while paring its lineup of fashion books. Other recent wins include golfwear marketer Greg Norman Apparel, American Leather luggage and wine enthusiast Web site Virtual Vineyards.

"We bought the 'Weekend Journal' because it combined the business/high-tech reader with a weekend magazine lifestyle reader," said Rita Belle, director of marketing and advertising at Virtual Vineyards, who committed to a full-year schedule. "For us, it's a nice combination."

Other fashionable names such as Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic and Bloomingdale's are regular advertisers.

More important than the number of new accounts is their breadth. The weekend section carries 15 categories of advertising, according to "Weekend Journal" General Manager Mary Donahue Quinlan.

What's more, a recent Journal survey found 80.4% of readers either read or skim "Weekend Journal," and spend an average of 33 minutes with each week's edition.

The section's success is a boost for the paper's parent, Dow Jones & Co., which has been struggling to grow for a number of years.

The company earlier took the acquisition route to boost its business. In 1990, it bought Telerate, a real-time stock price delivery system, only to sell the money-losing division eight years later.

But an organic growth strategy appears to be working.


"The revenue is all incremental," said CIBC Oppenheimer media analyst Rudy Hokanson.

"It may be small but it's profitable," he added. "It's not one of the major drivers, but it's still a smart use of [the Journal's] information and distribution systems. My understanding is this may lead it to do more such sections."

Mr. Hokanson reported in January, based on data from the company, that "Weekend Journal" net revenues for its first 91/2 months were more than $10 million. He added the "Weekend Journal" allows The Wall Street Journal to be an effective carrier of additional editorial content. The newspaper can produce "Weekend Journal" when its presses are idle, waiting for the next day's edition to be sent to press, he said.

"Weekend Journal" was introduced inexpensively by using existing editorial staff and hiring Ms. Quinlan, a former magazine publisher, to sell ads.

The section grew out of the editorial staff's observation that columns on sports and travel added to the Friday paper were generating positive reader response, as were the "Leisure & Arts" columns featuring book, theater and movie reviews.

The idea was "kicking around for 10 years," said "Weekend Journal" Editor Joanne Lipman. Journal Editor Paul Steiger felt the time was finally right to create a separate section, and put Ms. Lipman, the paper's original daily advertising columnist and a front-page editor, in charge of the project 18 months ago.


"We began to notice there was less and less of a difference between home life and work life," she said. "So we thought if we could bring the same sophisticated reporting techniques the Journal is known for and apply those to travel, entertainment and sports, we would really be providing a valuable reader service."

The editorial and design staff for the section now numbers about 30. It is also the only section of the paper that uses color and photography extensively in editorial columns.

The weekend section's relationship with its older, news counterpart is hardly one-sided. The introduction of new advertisers into the main news pages may prove to be the biggest benefit the newspaper reaps from the section.

"It's a way of 'incubating' people and getting them comfortable with our audience," Mr. Atkinson said. "It's an appetizer to get people into the Journal

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