'Organic' to offer style title

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Rodale believes the world is ready for an organic-themed lifestyle magazine.

Last year's test of Organic Style will move into full launch phase in August, with a debut September-October issue. The magazine-this year's take on last year's spiritually infused women's title trend seen in Hearst Magazines' O, The Oprah Magazine, and Time Inc.'s Real Simple-is an idea closely associated with Rodale vice chairman and heir apparent Maria Rodale.

Ms. Rodale said she "married" ideas about the magazine from several people with her own experiences stemming from her "lifelong, passionate interest in organic."

The title offers the softer side to the subject-similar to O, The Oprah Magazine's have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too blend of celebrity, spirituality and consumerism-stressing catchwords like purity and luxury. The target reader's median age is 39, but the team behind Organic Style posit an appeal for upscale women from their 20s to their 50s and beyond.

The magazine is organized somewhat idiosyncratically, with sections titled "Fresh" (short, front-of-the-book pieces), "Honest" (including "Honest Beauty" and a regular dinner-party feature called "Honest Fun"), "Pure" (focusing on home and garden), and "Juicy" (celebrity and trend-oriented pieces), according to Editor Carol Brietzke Brooks. The photography is unusually lush and evocative for Rodale; executive creative director Chris Gangi was previously art director at World Publications' Garden Design and Conde Nast Publications' Conde Nast Traveler.


Last spring, 80,000 copies of a "preview" issue of Organic Style hit newsstands in California and North Carolina. At launch, its rate base will be 400,000, and its open page rate is $31,600. Publisher Bernadette Haley said the company has informal commitments with a variety of food and beauty advertisers for the launch issue, but declined to specify them. The preview issue advertisers included Estee Lauder Cos.' Aveda hair care products; General Motors Corp.'s Buick; Saab USA; and General Mills' Sunrise organic cereal.

Organic Style launches into an inhospitable climate. Through Feb-ruary, magazine ad pages are down 6.3%. And the newsstand remains a nut few publishers can crack, though Rodale's strength in direct mail may soften its impact.

Rodale plans two issues of Organic Style for this year and every-other-monthly publication in 2002.

Rodale's Organic Gardening circulation has declined from 800,000 to 600,000 since the mid-'90s. But ad pages, thanks in part to a growing consumer interest in organically produced food, are up. The six-times-a-year title had 33 ad pages in its January/February issue, which puts it up 16.9% compared to last year's issue, according to Publishers Information Bureau figures. For 2000, the title had ad pages of 189.11, up 37.8%. The sale of organic food has grown more than 20% annually since 1990, according to the nonprofit Organic Trade Association. In 1999, the last year for which figures are available, sales of organic food reached $6 billion.

Last summer, Steven Murphy, Rodale president-chief operating officer, told Advertising Age of its ambitious plan to publish 750,000-circulation magazines for men and women across three separate age groups-teens, young adults, and baby boomers. Organic Style does not fall into either the teen or young adult category for women, in which the company currently lacks a magazine.

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