Bad-weather launch

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The worst economic climate in a decade may seem an unlikely atmosphere in which to launch new magazines. But even as some titles go under, a spate of new ones are crowding onto the nation`s newsstands.

American Media, publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, on Sept. 4 introduces Style 24-7, an every other weekly dedicated to fashion, shopping and celebrities.

The magazine-think a down-market cross between In Style and Us Weekly on thinner paper stock-leverages American Media`s distribution clout to gain prime space in supermarket checkout racks. It is a joint venture between American Media and MacAndrews & Forbes, Ron Perelman`s holding company. MacAndrews & Forbes owns Fashion Wire Daily, which will supply the new magazine with editorial content.

Style 24-7 is aimed at women ages 25 to 44 who are "passionate about fashion" but realistic about affordable alternatives, said Editor in Chief Brandusa Niro. Two-hundred thousand copies of the 96-page debut issue will be distributed in the top 10 markets. The issue carries just 14 pages of advertising, sold at $12,000 each.

The partners will commit $10 million to $15 million to the magazine, which they want to move to a weekly frequency.

"If it meets our objectives," said David Pecker, chairman-CEO American Media, "we`ll roll out nationally fairly quickly."

That rollout, said Publisher Steve Aaron, could take the title`s distribution up to 600,000 by the end of March 2002. The magazine`s rate base will be determined then.

The magazine joins a host of new titles, including Hachette Filipacchi Magazines` glossy teen title Elle Girl; Rodale`s entry into O, The Oprah Magazine/Real Simple territory with Organic Style; and Time Inc`s twice-yearly fashion offshoot of Wallpaper, Spruce.

One industry veteran who has overseen his fair share of launches believes their timing is right on. "It's actually better" to launch in a tough environment, said John Mack Carter, a former Hearst Magazines executive who is now a consultant to parent Hearst Corp. "If for no other reason, some will say, `We knew it would be tough-the economy`s tough."'

That said, the new launches are taking on some of the magazine world`s biggest success stories of the past decade, Style 24-7 with In Style; and Elle Girl with Time Inc.`s Teen People and Hearst`s CosmoGirl.


Elle Girl is an elite take on the burgeoning teen-girl category. "You will not find endless reportage on Britney`s latest move, not find `Life's Most Embarrassing Moments' or endless quizzes on `how does your eating style determine what kind of boy likes you,"' said Editor in Chief Brandon Holley.

The title, which launches with a rate base of 300,000, will have about 60% of its edit devoted to style, said Publisher Linda Mason. Its 170-page debut issue has 74 ad pages. Ms. Mason said the plan is for circulation to grow to between 750,000 and 950,000. International editions will be launched later this year in the U.K. and possibly Asia.

Organic Style, launched with 200,000 subscribers from Rodale's Organic Gardening, has a rate base of 400,000 and 45 ad pages in its debut 128-page issue. "It fits our strategy of creating new products for a younger audience," said Rodale CEO Steve Murphy. "We are shooting for getting as big as 750,000 to 1 million as soon as we can."

The have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too secret weapon behind O-that a spiritually nourished life can still be chock-a-block with material goodies-is less evident in Organic Style. "Real Simple was more about putting a little Zen in your life and cutting out the clutter. O was more spiritual and empowering. Organic Style has a concept, but I`m not sure everyone will embrace it. It's not as easily applied to our lives," said Matina Karadiakos, senior principal media director at Optimedia International, New York.

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