TIMING IS EVERYTHING: The daily journalists at The Wall Street Journal have gotten a rude welcome to the slower pace of a quarterly glossy. While the paper’s new magazine WSJ has an interview with Republican vice presidential nominee Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin, the story is about her workout regime and doesn’t mention her as a candidate. Then there’s a story on Kate Moss and Sir Philip Green — but Moss gave the real scoop about her growing business empire to last month’s Vogue. And a story on the America’s Cup battle between Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli was extensively covered in Sunday’s New York Times.
Oh well — that didn’t stop Journal editors from boasting about their new baby at Wednesday’s unveiling. “This being the convention season, histrionics are the order of the day,” said Journal managing editor Robert Thomson. Blown-up panels of the magazine’s cover and inside pages were covered in a cloth that was then ceremoniously removed. There was a silence, and the magazine’s editor in chief, Tina Gaudoin, told the audience of 60-odd journalists: “I think that’s the point at which you’re all meant to clap.”
The Journal and its newish owner, News Corp., seem to have spared no expense for the rollout of the magazine, which has already included a global, multicity “road show,” for advertisers and other interested parties, and will stretch to several launch parties — New York’s is this Friday and Europe and Asia will follow.
Other articles in the launch issue include a well fashion shoot styled by Sarajane Hoare and photographed by Michel Comte, with fashion credits consigned to the back of the book. There are several jewelry stories, and a short feature called “Poochi Gucci,” about luxury dog accessories.
Thomson brought the red meat by hinting at a much-covered feud between his newspaper and The New York Times and its T supplements. He mentioned, but did not name, another newspaper that he said regards its magazine as “a house of ill repute,” and said the Journal, by contrast, welcomed its glossy magazine. Thomson said that the magazine had been so well received by the advertising community — it carries 51 advertisers, 19 new to the Journal, for a total of 104 pages in the issue — that the Journal was contemplating expanding more into magazines, though when pressed he said the thinking was not advanced. Advertisers in the launch issue include Audemars Piguet, Hermès, Burberry, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace, as well as some real estate and travel advertisements.
— Irin Carmon
CUSHY TITLE: The Wall Street Journal isn’t the only broadsheet getting into the magazine game. The New York Observer is poised to toss a new fashion title atop the mounting pile. Jared Kushner, who bought the Observer from Arthur Carter in July 2006, is entering the fashion publishing stakes with Observer Style, a semiannual magazine due to make its debut Nov. 16 and focused on the local fashion scene. “Past magazines have been crappy advertorials, saddle stitched together,” Jenna Hollander-Essig, fashion director of the Observer and its new fashion vehicle, said of the weekly newspaper’s previous forays in the magazine format. “This is our first editorially driven magazine.”
Observer Style is anticipating an 80-page November edition, with ads occupying 15 full pages, an initial rate base of 58,000 readers and primary editorial competition coming from New York magazine. The title will be inserted into all subscriber and newsstand copies of The Observer twice yearly. It also will be carried by boutique hotels in Manhattan, such as the W hotels, The Mercer and 60 Thompson. An online version will go live in November.
— Valerie Seckler
OBAMA SOLO: Few women are as in demand for women’s and fashion magazines as Michelle Obama — though if Sarah Palin lasts, she may give Obama a run for her money. Lucky for More, then, that it started negotiating a women’s magazine cover exclusive for the wife of the Democratic nominee posing alone (rather than in the ubiquitous family portraits) before Barack Obama had even clinched the nomination. Editor in chief Lesley Jane Seymour said getting Michelle Obama was the first thing she wanted to do “the day I walked in the door,” back in January, and that if her husband hadn’t won the nomination, Michelle Obama would have been an inside “second act” story. The cover and accompanying story by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Geraldine Brooks were moved up a month in part to allow other magazines to run Obama in November, per the campaign’s request. Another stipulation was that Obama wear her own clothes for the shoot with Matthew Rolston (evening gowns were out, because they could look presumptuously inaugural) so she is pictured wearing (who else?) Maria Pinto. Being fond of ornamentation, Obama insisted on the black bow.
MOTHER OF INVENTION: Tough times call for out-of-the-box thinking by both retailers and magazines. J. Crew recently sponsored a video series for GQ, advising men on how to become well-dressed rebels in 30 days. As part of the deal, the retailer also guaranteed it would sell 50,000 subscriptions over the next year on its Web site. Now in a similar vein — but on a much larger scale — Banana Republic is using the “Details Men’s Style Manual” as the inspiration for a promotion with the magazine, which will take place in more than 400 Banana Republic stores in North America. Beginning Wednesday through Sept. 17, each retail location will have extensive in-store magazine branding with “look cards,” store displays, signage and fitting room signs. Bananarepublic.com will host a microsite with more style tips from Details and special offers from the retailer. “I don’t think anything, to this scale, has been done before between a magazine and a fashion brand,” said Chris Nicklo, vice president of marketing, who noted that the retailer has been a longtime advertiser with Details. “We’re also going to advertise around this and have [store] windows associated with it.” He declined to say how much the brand is spending on the program. Publisher Steve DeLuca noted that increasing subscriptions also will be an important part of the promotion, and special offers will be available in stores and online.
— Amy Wicks