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David Pecker is moving quickly to raise the profiles and quality of supermarket tabloids the National Enquirer and Star.

In the coming weeks, the American Media chairman-CEO will launch a series of 12 special issues under the banner of the Star and a book division under the National Enquirer name. He also will unveil consumer ad campaigns and color redesigns for both weeklies.

Mr. Pecker said it will cost an additional $50,000 a week to upgrade to color printing for the two newspapers.

Currently, about 60% of editorial runs with color photos with many inside pages printed in b&w.


"It was a decision we made when we acquired the titles," Mr. Pecker said. "The editors always wanted to do it, but previous owners never wanted to do it because of budgetary constraints. It's the right decision."

Mr. Pecker, who usually has a reputation of keeping tight controls on costs, said he believes the investment will pay off in the form of national ad pages. The magazine-industry veteran was part of a group, Evercore Capital Partners, that acquired American Media in February for $767 million.

The newspapers could also see added newsstand revenue; the cover price of each rises 10 cents to $1.59 with their July 27 issues. The move is not expected to have a significant impact on circulations; the Enquirer had a circulation of more than 2.24 million for the six months ended in December, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, while the Star had more than 1.82 million.

The company has already had some small successes with the sort of mainstream national advertisers that traditionally shy away from the salacious supermarket tabs. The first special issue of the Star, essentially a Ricky Martin fanzine, makes its debut this week and includes ads for the Liz Claiborne Cosmetics fragrance Curve, Revlon and Nabisco Biscuit Co.'s Chips Ahoy!

The July 1 issue of the Star also carried a page ad for October Films' release "The Muse." In addition to the ad, the film was promoted via newsstand cards in 10,000 stores serviced by American Media's distribution company, Distribution Services.

To create a more appealing environment for mainstream advertisers, Mr. Pecker said he will excise ads he deems unacceptable.

"I've taken out some of the vitamin ads and some of the direct-mail ads, not the Franklin Mint or Bradford Exchange," he said. "Some of them looked like they were selling snake oil. We're not accepting those anymore."

On the consumer front, an aggressive repositioning campaign for the Enquirer rolls out in September from Della Femina/Jeary & Partners, New York, to boost circulation.


"The whole idea was to be proud to be a tabloid," said agency President Michael Jeary. "People are interested in gossip, the inside story, and no one can do that better than the Enquirer."

A separate campaign for the Star will come later in the fall via Arnell Group Brand Consulting, New York.

For the Enquirer, Della Femina/Jeary plans to produce a new ad each week that features a well-dressed spokesman modeled after Enquirer Editor Steve Coz, a Harvard graduate. The spokesman will present that week's cover story. The ads emphasize the paper's credibility and reassure consumers that it's OK to pick it up every week. The tagline being tested in key markets: "It's people like you

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