PLAYER PROFILE: GRIMES CRAFTS ROBUST DEBUT FOR 'SPORTS FOR WOMEN': CONDE NAST INVESTS $40 MIL IN HIGH-PROFILE TITLE LAUNCHING IN SEPTEMBER

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The pressure was on when Suzanne Grimes came on board as the second publisher of Conde Nast Sports for Women, just two months prior to wrapping up the launch issue.

Since the year-earlier announcement that Conde Nast Publications would be venturing into the women's sports field, the planned title had not only changed publishers but its business plan. By the time Ms. Grimes was tapped in May, Conde Nast Sports for Women had become the company's highest profile and most expensive launch ever under President-CEO Steve Florio.

Mr. Florio earlier said Conde Nast would be investing $40 million in the new title.

FORMERLY AT 'TV GUIDE'

Ms. Grimes, hired away from her post as senior VP-publisher of TV Guide, replaced Deanna Brown, who left in May after signing 45 to 50 ad pages for the first issue. Under Ms. Brown's tenure, the original plan to launch as an every-other-monthly was changed to monthly, given the potential Con-de Nast saw in the market. The launch date also was switched from April to October.

According to Mr. Florio at the time, Ms. Brown was not experienced enough to handle the new plan. But it was reported that Ms. Brown was unhappy with the corporate decision to accept tobacco advertising in a title whose editorial mission purported to encourage an active, healthy lifestyle. (Only one page was sold to a tobacco advertiser in the first issue: Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. for its Misty brand.)

Industry experts also noted that the emerging title was facing a new rival in Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated Women/Sport; the second of two test issues scheduled for this year is due on newsstands Sept. 2.

The first issue of Conde Nast Sports for Women hits the newsstands Sept. 16, with 105 ad pages. What Ms. Grimes, 38, is most proud of is that those 105 pages come from a diverse group of advertising categories.

"The strategy, given that I came in so late in the game, was not to have a super big issue, but to attract the widest possible range of advertisers to build on in later issues," said Ms. Grimes.

BMW AND VOLVO

Advertisers in the first issue include BMW of North America, Chrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Volvo Cars of North America; cosmetic giant Revlon; apparel and fragrance ads from Ralph Lauren Polo Sport, Giorgio Armani, LizSport, Guess?, Jockey International, Lee Jeans and J. Crew; and liquor pages from Seagram Americas' Absolut and Bacardi-Martini USA.

Ms. Grimes sees potential in the travel and financial services categories, such as insurance and credit cards, as well as entertainment such as TV, film and music.

"It's not just that these women play sports and are active," she said. "The profile goes beyond that to a woman who is confident and wants to make a difference in her life."

The new title's initial rate base will be 350,000 with newsstand distribution at 30,000 outlets. A b&w page is $16,800; a color page is $21,000.

At 19,000 newsstand outlets, Conde Nast Sports for Women will be touted with

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