Buzz Survey:

Published on .

There are things we talk about only among our closest confidants ... our thinning hairlines ... our neighbors' thinning hair-lines ... and it was in this spirit that Advertising Age sent out an e-mail to key players in the mag-ad buying game, buyers and sellers alike, to tease out what's really on their minds. Passwords were provided. Instructions were given. Responses were guaranteed anonymity.

Hottest book? Yup, O, the Oprah Magazine won the most mentions.

It's not enough to get anyone's jobs back, but Talk was high on respondents' minds-for both good and ill. It tied for the "coldest magazine" honors. Ron Galotti, the title's former president and now publisher of GQ, was noted to be "so tough on advertisers, he negotiated himself out of a job." Tied with Talk and out in the cold was U.S. News & World Report: "Not relevant and No. 3 in the category. There is no need for the magazine to exist."

More hotties: InStyle, Nylon, Maxim, Cosmo-Girl and Vanity Fair. And one lone voice in the wilderness: "There isn't one-look around!"

Sharpest redesign honors went to Seventeen-though some dissenters claimed it was the worst-and a hodgepodge of younger-skewing titles got mentioned for least-liked redesign: the now-defunct Mademoiselle, as well as Details and Teen.

Toughest negotiator? Zenith Media's Melissa Pordy was dubbed "The Terminator"; Carat's Robin Steinberg won admiration as "toughest AND fairest"-and so did Linda Thomas Brooks of GM Media-works. Winning mentions as well: Lee Zobrist of Advansers and Donna McLean of Starcom Worldwide. Aside from Mr. Galotti, tough magazine-side negotiators included O's Jill Seelig and People`s Peter B auer.

We asked who they most liked to see on the other side of the desk. "At this point, a warm body," wailed one publisher. Popular among ad-side executives were Jan Studin of Parents, new Vogue-r Tom Florio and James D'Adamo, the fashion director of YM. "My most spirited meetings" are with Media-edge's George Janson, offered one mag exec. Popular, too, were Optimedia International's Matina Karadiakos.

Tied for most promising launch honors were two vastly different titles: Gruner & Jahr's Rosie and Dennis Publishing's The Week.

Most missed? Mademoiselle nosed out the second-place winner . . . Talk ("I liked it. So sue me.").

And agency and magazine people traded barbs. From an agency: "Ad sales people are getting less professional each season. Remember the definition of sales . . `need satisfaction.' " From the magazine side: "Clients need to take a more active role, and stop letting 25- and 30-year-old media folks make multi-million-dollar buying decisions." Meee-owww! And one agency pro sniffed, "In these tough times, I would rather see the budgets for entertainment and lunches be put to better rates for my clients."

With that in mind, the next Ad Age Buzz Survey will be distributed at the sandwich cart on the corner of 44th Street and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan (apologies to non-residents, but you knew it was an NYC-centric business when you got in, right?). Just push your way to the front of the line and reach under the fried onions.

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