The effort ties Hearst's cadre of women's magazines to two of the fastest-growing areas of business: the Internet and direct-to-consumer advertising.
The program begins next month, and will include inserts in eight Hearst titles; Web pages within the Women.com site; and short vignettes on Lifetime's show "New Attitudes." The topic of the first, dubbed "Women's Health Link," is health issues for women over 40.
"The text in the insert is written by a very credible and authoritative source of information on women's health issues, Harvard Health Publications," said Hearst Senior VP-Chief Marketing Officer Michael Clinton, referring to the consumer education division of the Harvard Medical School. "The advertisers bought against that credibility."
The program marks the first time Hearst Magazines has united with Lifetime and Women.com as marketing partners. Hearst became a partner in Women.com earlier this year and is a part owner of cable channel Lifetime.
Hearst will run 5 million of the inserts in eight of its titles. It will be bound into all subscriber copies of the September issues of Country Living and Good Housekeeping, and selectively bound into subscriber copies mailed to readers identified as over age 40 in six others: Colonial Homes, Country Living Gardener, Harper's Bazaar, House Beautiful, Town & Country and Victoria.
The Web pages created for the project at Women.com will link to issue-specific sites (such as www.diabetes.org) as well as to advertiser Web sites. Some of the links will lead back to Harvard Medical School information.
During the week of Sept. 13, Lifetime will air its vignettes on topics covered in the insert and on the Web pages.
Future sections in the year 2000 will focus on health issues for women under 40, and either men's health or mental health.
Advertisers that bought into the September section include Quaker Oats Co., Wyeth Ayerst Laboratories' menopause drug Prempro, McNeil Personal Products' Tylenol, and Zenecal Pharmaceuticals' Nolvadex, a breast cancer treatment.
"There are a lot of different special inserts being done by publishers and in general they are responding to requests by advertisers to come up with something beyond the standard print advertising," said a spokeswoman for Zenecal.
She added that the company is "very concerned" about getting across information