Mags await cig-ad reaction to data

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A long-awaited Simmons Market Research study on teen readership of magazines hit publishers' offices by Halloween. But those who hoped it would dispel dark fears about the future of tobacco advertising may be disappointed.

The study looked at 40 magazines in an attempt to quantify levels of teen readership. In June, Philip Morris USA broke from tobacco industry ranks to pull cigarette ads -- as tobacco critics had demanded -- from titles with more than 15% teen readership or more than 2 million teen readers. But concerns arose because Philip Morris' teen data were based on two studies with different methodologies.

The Simmons study brings good news to a dozen titles that lost Philip Morris advertising. The new study found the following titles did not exceed the 15% or 2 million benchmarks: Wenner Media's US Weekly; American Media's Star and National Enquirer; Primedia's Soap Opera Digest; Johnson Publishing's Jet and Ebony; Conde Nast Publications' Self and Glamour; Hearst Publications' Popular Mechanics and Cosmopolitan; Times Mirror Magazines' Outdoor Life; and Essence Communications' Essence.


But a Philip Morris spokesman scotched hopes that the company would resume cigarette advertising in those titles, saying the study "is not prompting us to do any reconsidering. We don't just rely on one source of data." The company said it is waiting for Mediamark Research Inc.'s Teenmark study, due out in a month or two.

A Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. spokesman said it has not yet taken action as a result of the new study but that the company "may well change our selection" of magazine ad vehicles as a result of its findings. B&W had pulled ads from about 12 titles in the wake of Philip Morris' decision.

An R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. spokeswoman said that company's policy is to advertise only in titles with two-thirds of their readership 18 or over.

"We're waiting, like everyone else, to see what shoe is going to be dropped," said Ed Lewis, chairman-CEO of Essence Communications. Mr. Lewis is not optimistic, however. In setting budgets for 2001, he said, Essence assumed it would not carry any cigarette advertising at all, even though the Simmons study found the title in compliance with teen readership guidelines.

Other magazine executives welcomed the opportunity to make their case to Philip Morris anew.

"We publish vehicles that attract people who smoke heavily," said Richard Amann, exec VP-publishing at American Media, publisher of the National Enquirer and Star. "At the earliest convenient time, we'll re-engage with Philip Morris." He said American Media's titles did budget to carry tobacco advertising, although at reduced levels from this year.

Other magazines among the 40 Simmons surveyed that had readerships in compliance with the suggested tobacco guidelines were National Geographic, GQ,and four fitness titles -- Fitness, Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness and Shape.

Magazines with teen readership in excess of the guidelines included Car Craft, Elle, Entertainment Weekly, Field & Stream, Hot Rod, InStyle, Mademoiselle, Motor Trend, People, Popular Science, Reader's Digest, Rolling Stone, Seventeen, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Spin, Teen, TV Guide, Vibe, Vogue and YM.

Time Inc.'s InStyle did not appear on Philip Morris' hit list in June. A spokeswoman at InStyle declined comment on the chance that InStyle may lose Philip Morris business.

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