After 'Rosie': G&J tests waters for new title

By Published on .

Gruner & Jahr USA publishing wants a piece of the 20-something market, and is testing interest with a steamy pitch to readers for Flash, a new title.

About 500,000 direct-mail solicitations for Flash will hit mailboxes this week. Emily Listfield, the editor in chief of Fitness, is spearheading the project, and is expected to have that title at both magazines should Flash launch.

Results of the direct-mail test won't be known for a few months, but Cindy Spengler, G&J's chief marketing officer, cautioned more tests could follow and thus it was hard to foresee a potential launch date. "We probably could" launch Flash in '03, if all goes well, she said, but added "there are no plans for that." Should the title launch, its rate base would be around 500,000-although the company's expectation for Flash would be that its circulation would end up significantly higher.

The direct-mail come-on promises a title significantly steamier than the rest of G&J's stable, which includes venerable women's titles like Family Circle. In a Maxim-esque touch, the top of the letter to subscribers is emblazoned with repetitions of the phrase "stars style shopping sex."

clique free

That credo suggests Flash would be a magazine that blends disparate elements from hot titles, in this case such magazines as Conde Nast Publications' Lucky, Time Inc.'s In Style and Fairchild Publications' Jane.

The tone, Ms. Listfield said, will be "cheeky and insider-ish but not cliquey," comparing it to a pal's furtive cellphone call from the bathroom at a party to report on what's being seen and heard. "No one is reaching this specific audience in a real lifestyle way"-though some aforementioned titles may disagree.

The last potential launch for which G&J did direct mail tests-almost exactly two years ago-was Friday, an aborted project aimed at women in their 30s and 40s that was superceded by the Rosie O'Donnell joint venture, Rosie. (Joan Sheridan LaBarge, the publisher of Rosie, is involved in the Flash project.)

Despite the very public implosion of Rosie and continued weak performance from its high-profile business acquisitions Inc. and Fast Company, through November of this year G&J's overall ad pages are up 12.1%, a performance that bests the industry's other top players.

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