ENQUIRER STEPS OUT WITH `COUNTRY WEEKLY'

By Published on .

When Iain Calder, exec VP for tabloid publisher Enquirer/Star Group, was met at a New York airport by a driver sporting a cowboy hat-and the news the driver was a Western line dancing enthusiast-the executive knew his company's new venture may have lassoed something big.

Country Weekly, a magazine featuring country music celebrity interviews, reviews, concert dates and photographs, breaks April 5 with 750,000 copies in 60,000 magazine racks nationwide. Mr. Calder says the title has no rivals and should benefit from country music's current popularity.

He cited country singer Garth Brooks' recent win over pop singer Billy Joel for the People's Choice Award for top male artist. And singer Tanya Tucker stopped by the Enquirer's Lantana, Fla., headquarters in early March to wish the publication good luck.

Advertisers-some of whom include General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet truck division, Coty's Stetson fragrances, Sony Corp. of America's record unit, the Nashville Network and the Florida Citrus Commission-have characterized Country Weekly as People magazine for the country industry, said Katherine Jose, senior VP-advertising director.

"I've gotten everything from `It's about time' to `We're the natural company to have done it,"' she said. "It's like a personal link between country music fans and country music artists and their lifestyles."

Analysts following the introduction claim the title benefits from limited competition in a hot market. It also could do well with its parent company's cash flow, news sources, publishing experience, distribution network and retailer leverage.

"Their real strength is they control a lot of those magazine pockets in the front of the supermarkets, and those magazine pockets are a very valuable property," said Ed Atorino, senior VP with Dillon Read & Co., a New York investment company. "They can ride piggyback on the guy carrying in the Enquirer and the Star."

That success could translate into financial success for investors in the company, which has "taken the Star and Enquirer about as far as they're going to go."

Advertisers will spend $6,300 for a b&w page, and $9,000 for a color page. The company has hired Fort Lauderdale ad shop Harris Drury Cohen to produce TV spots. Enquirer/Star will handle the media buy, which will run on Country Music Television and the Nashville Network.

Creative will feature a grocery store backdrop with customers and baggers dancing and singing, said Stan Harris, agency president-creative director.

Those familiar with the company's other publications will be surprised to find what's missing in the new book. "If somebody's looking for scandal, they won't find it," Mr. Calder said. "It's absolutely nothing like any of our other publications."

Most Popular
In this article: