PLAYER OF THE WEEK: EVANS SEEKING AD REVIVAL AS 'U.S. NEWS' PRESIDENT: MORE AGGRESSIVE MARKETING IS PLANNED, WITH AD CAMPAIGN DUE IN APRIL

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As the newly appointed president of U.S. News & World Report, Tom Evans faces the challenge of re-storing the newsweekly to the top tier status it enjoyed in the early '90s. During that time, the magazine's investigative journalism and service pieces helped propel it to the ad page crown in the news category from 1992 to 1994.

Since then, however, it has slip-ped to third. Last year, U.S. News' pages fell 4% to 2,083.59 while News-week jumped 10.2% to 2,533.3 and Time was up 3% to 2,392.92.

THE ISSUE IS REACH

"They have a strong readership base that most advertisers would want, but the issue is always one of reach," said Joel Kushins, managing partner, North American media, Bozell Worldwide, New York. "Is there a need to go beyond the top two?"

"We're going to be more aggressive with our marketing," said Mr. Evans, the magazine's publisher since 1992.

Mr. Evans assumed the president's title from Fred Drasner, who remains CEO. He said he plans to keep U.S. News' long-running "News you can use" theme as he unveils a $1 million TV, print and airport ad campaign, breaking in April via Partners & Shevack, New York.

"It's meant to enhance the image and make it more visible as well as help out on circulation," he said.

In the latest circulation figures released by Audit Bureau of Circulations, the magazine showed a 1.8% increase to 2,260,857.

The moves on the marketing front follow a redesign of the magazine that James Fallows, installed as editor in chief last September, unveiled with the Jan. 27 issue.

"Good magazines need to be constantly reinvented," said Mr. Fallows, who despite a major house cleaning of top editors sees the in-house design changes as "evolutionary." He said he plans to keep a focus on service and investigative journalism and has no intention of matching the Saturday close that both Newsweek and Time have for their Monday issues. U.S. News closes on Friday night.

U.S. News has added weekly sections on health, technology and personal finance, categories Mr. Evans hopes draw more ad pages.

LOGO WON'T CHANGE

What won't change again is the U.S. News logo. An incessant critic of syndicated research, Mr. Evans said U.S. News' readership scores fell dramatically when it introduced a new logo more than two years ago. Since many advertising decisions are based on syndicated research, he felt the magazine was unfairly penalized. A year later, the logo was switched back and readership scores rose again.

Mr. Evans predicts U.S. News will be up 5% in pages and 7.5% in dollars in '97, but downplays the significance of simple ad page tallies, saying he would rather focus on overall profitability.

And profit, he maintains, comes from more than just the core magazine. Mr. Evans also serves as publisher of Fast Company, a joint venture funded by U.S. News Chairman Mort Zuckerman, that has enjoyed good buzz.

Mr. Evans also continues to pursue joint venture book deals, and, to get more online reach, he ended an alliance with CompuServe in early '96, opting instead

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