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Now the hard sell begins.

Days after unveiling a new corporate strategy that reduced rate bases on 13 of its 15 monthly magazines, boosted ad rates 5% and dropped circulation an average of 10%, Hearst brass now must sell the concept on Madison Avenue.

Last week, Hearst called on Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, which handles media buying for Procter & Gamble Co. and Johnson & Johnson; Grey Advertising; and Bozell Worldwide.

"The approach they are taking in concept is right," said Michael Drexler, Bozell chief media officer, after an Aug. 3 meeting with a high-powered team of Hearst executives led by the magazine group President Claeys Bahrenburg. Mr. Drexler did say he still has some problems with the increase in the cost per thousand readers under the new plan.

Hearst executives insist they have a strict "no negotiation" stance on the rate increase, but they can expect to be tested in the weeks ahead.

Hearst brass have armed themselves with a half-hour slide presentation and statistics they say show past rate base cuts at Redbook and other titles yielded no appreciable decline in overall readership. They have divided up the country: Alan Waxenberg, publisher of Good Housekeeping, heads up the East Coast team; Redbook Publisher Rocky Shepard is handling the West Coast; Jay McGill, Country Living VP-publisher, directs the Midwest; and Detroit is covered by Mark Goldschmidt, Hearst Magazines VP-director marketing and sales.

"We're trying to get to every agency and every advertiser in the country," said Mr. Waxenberg.

And already it appears that at least one other publisher is following Hearst's lead. New Woman, published by K-III Communications, said it was cutting the rate base by 9.6% (with no ad rate change) to 1,175,000, effective Nov. 1.

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