Despite economy, lux mags take risks

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Cutbacks among luxury marketers' ad budgets have impacted all who play in that space, but two new ventures aimed at those advertisers are nonetheless set to make debuts next month, one from Fairchild Publications and one from luxury catalog company Vivre.

Fairchild Publications will launch W Jewelry on newsstands April 8. It's part of a strategy, said W VP-Publisher Alyce Alston, to broaden that brand via spin-off titles. Another such effort, which Ms. Alston would not divulge any details about, could be launched in late '03 or early '04, Ms. Alston said.

The flagship could use the help. Ad pages at W fell 12.6% last year, to 1,858.5.

The driver behind W Jewelry, Ms. Alston said, was the sense that W had maxed out in circulation (which was 464,169 at year-end, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations) and ad pages. Thus, she explained, serious growth had to come from brands "launched under the W umbrella." Jewelry made an especially appealing initial point of entry, she said, since the title had doubled its jewelry ad pages in the past five years. Surveys also showed its readers were anxious for more jewelry content.

Fairchild will distribute 75,000 copies of W Jewelry's debut issue, 10,000 of which will be sent to newsstands and the remainder of which will be sent to names dredged from Advance Publications-Fairchild's corporate parent-consumer database. The title will come out quarterly, with a hefty cover price of $10. A full-page color ad is $14,000. The debut issue has 94 ad pages among its 185 editorial pages, which match the oversize dimensions of pages in W but with a heavier paper stock.

first time

Elsewhere, luxury cataloguer Vivre will distribute next month 500,000 copies of its next catalog and will mark the first time the catalog has accepted ads from other advertisers. One more such catalog is slated to appear this year.

Revenues at Vivre, which sells products from luxury marketers like Baccarat, Burberry and Salvatore Ferragamo, were previously dependent on transactional fees it took from marketers' products sold via direct-mail or its Web site. Ad sales in the catalog are a small effort thus far: Only four ad pages appear in the upcoming issue, but among those buying ads are watchmakers Chanel and Zenith. A full-page color ad costs $25,000. Vivre has no current plans to go out on newsstands.

The catalog will take a more magazine-esque approach to its layouts of luxury goods, including, for instance, favorite drink recipes from famed bartenders amid photos of barware. Since each page directs readers to the company's 800 number and Web site, it one-ups the transactional mojo of Conde Nast Publications shopping title Lucky, even if its paging and packaging looks less stylish. Eva Jeanbart Lorenzotti, Vivre founder-CEO, conceded this point somewhat, stressing the title was not exactly a magazine even while it was not quite a catalog any longer.

Perhaps inevitably, she landed on the phrase sometimes applied to Lucky: "Mag-a-log."

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