Non-traditional look creates 'Lucky' fans

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Lucky, Conde Nast Publications' new "magalog" or shopping title, is currently thudding onto newsstands nationally with a 200-page December-January holiday issue.

The magazine, born out of the fascination Conde Nast Editorial Director James Truman and Editor in Chief Kim France have for Japanese shopping magazines, is all but billed on its masthead as Conde Nast's anti-Conde Nast magazine. The staff, not the usual glamor-laden Conde Nast team, is still studded with magazine industry vets. It's also edited by a veteran of the anti-teen mag Sassy.

The no-articles hype typically attached to the title is a bit overstated (they're there, just very short), but nowhere are its differences from other Conde Nast titles more apparent than in the deal Lucky offered advertisers for its current issue. In February, Lucky goes monthly, and when the company started selling the magazine this summer, advertisers that bought space in the upcoming February and March issues got free pages in the holiday issue.

"It was a nice thing to see from Conde Nast,'' said Valerie Muller, senior VP-director of print services at Grey Global Group's MediaCom. Ms. Muller said such deals were not offered by other recent Conde Nast launches, such as Allure in 1991 and Women's Sports & Fitness in 1997.


The deals won't continue, said Sandy Golinkin, Lucky's publisher, but the deals for ad pages-credited by Mr. Truman to company President-CEO Steve Florio-may buy the new title goodwill with advertisers, as Lucky launches into a year all but certain to be less ad-crazy than this one.

Ad rate for a color page will be $30,000. The launch issue carried 87 ad pages with advertisers including American Express, Levi Strauss & Co., Ralph Lauren and Revlon.

So far, though, comments from ad executives sound positive. "It's an attractive-looking issue," said Bonnie Barest, managing director at Optimedia International, New York. "We have an intention of wanting to stick with it.'' Ms. Barest said she wasn't terribly familiar with the test issue from this spring but implied that her opinion wasn't the important one: "Whatever we think of it, it sold out.''


"Conceptually, I like it," said Ms. Muller, who touted Lucky's ease of use. "You don't have to go to a source page to find something-either the phone number or the URL is right there. . . . You can rip out one page and remember how to get [a pictured item.]"

Still, Ms. Muller, who bought an ad for client LVMH in the holiday issue, went on to suggest that Lucky's relative unconventionality is both its blessing and its curse. "I want it to succeed," she said. But, she added, "I think it will struggle for a while, because it's different."

Lucky's unconventionality only goes so far. At a launch party this fall at New York's Four Seasons, Conde Nast's president CEO boasted that the company was spending $40 million on Lucky's launch.

Immediately afterward, Ms. France prefaced her remarks by nervously joking about how relaxed she felt every time she heard Mr. Florio mention how much was being spent on the title.

Copyright November 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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