OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Today, as the first issue of Condé Nast Portfolio makes its debut on New York newsstands with 332 total pages, 185 of them advertising, one of the most scrutinized — and expensive — magazine launches in history will finally show its cards.
Editor in chief Joanne Lipman sums up the philosophy in her editor’s letter: “Business is about power. And guts. And passion. Business coverage should be, too.” (A photograph of Lipman with her father, who passed away in mid-February, appears alongside a brief tribute to him in the letter.) In an interview, Lipman also stressed the magazine’s design and photography — precisely the aspects skeptics doubted a newspaper veteran like Lipman could master — and said that for the cover, she had turned to fine arts photographer Scott Peterman to create “an iconic image” meant to convey “the excitement of business.” That image, as WWD reported, is an overhead shot of New York City skyscrapers at night, and it is unencumbered by cover lines. Instead, a cover flap, like the one on The New Yorker, that will go to both subscribers and newsstand buyers teases stories by some of the magazine’s best-known contributors (Tom Wolfe on hedge fund bigwigs, Michael Lewis on Tiger Woods, Matt Cooper on his entanglement in the Lewis “Scooter” Libby trial) and two younger writers (former New York Observer reporters Gabriel Sherman and Sheelah Kolhatkar on the investor who instigated Knight Ridder’s sale and the women of private equity, respectively). The Web site also was launched today.
But the story topics indicate the difficulties a monthly business title — even one with funding of from $100 million to what some now say is $125 million — faces against instantaneous Internet wires, dailies, weeklies and bi-weeklies. New York magazine’s cover story last week was on hedge funds; the Libby trial finished over a month ago.
The original goal of attracting more business and financial advertisers to Condé Nast’s fashion and luxury ad base appears to have been met, in the launch issue, at least: Of the 53 business advertisers appearing in the debut issue, 20 were new to the company and another 10 had run in just one Condé Nast title in the last two years, primarily in titles like Wired and Golf Digest.
The final ad page balance is a roughly 50-50 mix of endemic financial and business advertising with luxury, travel and automotive brands. Among the advertisers are Accenture, BMW, De Beers, Grey Goose, Prudential and Credit Suisse. Half the 10 Web sponsors of portfolio.com are financial advertisers. The first five spreads of the magazine are designated for business brands, to convey Portfolio’s identity as a business title, said vice president and group publisher David Carey. Ralph Lauren appears as the first luxury brand, with a three-page unit surrounding Lipman’s editor’s letter. The 32 remaining fashion and luxury advertisers in the first issue include Burberry, Ermenegildo Zegna, Patek Philippe and Rolex. The open page rate for a four-color, four-page ad is $34,200.
Though Portfolio cuts a wide swath with advertisers, Carey sees room for improvement in the automotive and travel categories. Still, Lexus bought 10 pages in the premiere issue to launch its new branding campaign, Cadillac bought the back cover and the premiere issue carries ads from Flexjet, British Airways and Loews Hotels. Carey said he expected the fall issues would carry over 100 pages of advertising, since 10 new advertisers have already signed on to the next issue, in September, and 90 percent of advertisers in the debut issue will return then.
Portfolio starts at a 350,000 rate base and goes nationwide on April 24, and the newsstand draw is expected to hover around 200,000, with heavy distribution at airports and bookstores.
The magazine appears as nearly every business magazine competitor is busily trying to preempt Portfolio’s aesthetic emphasis, which, as crafted by design director Robert Priest, evokes Lipman’s oft-stated “Vanity Fair-meets-The New Yorker” philosophy. But Portfolio’s executives are playing up their differences. For example, in a converted 11th-floor conference room, a place Carey likes to call his “idea lab,” black leather couches from Design Within Reach are accessorized with throw pillows. On one side of each pillow is the gray pinstripe often used in Portfolio’s branding; on the other, fuchsia satin is meant to signify luxury and includes a corner strip of the magazine’s logo. “[Advertisers] come here, admire the pillows, and by the time they get back to the office, there’s one waiting for them,” said Carey proudly. Quotes from media coverage of the launch are printed on boards leaning against the walls, including one from Gawker: “Eventually We Will All Be Working for Portfolio.” — Irin Carmon and Stephanie D. Smith
CHEAP DATE: Uniqlo has found an inexpensive way to find models for some of its marketing. To promote its upcoming T-shirt launch and store opening in Japan, the retailer called upon a few models, actors and musicians — and MySpace. Markus Kiersztan, owner of MP Creative and consulting creative director for Uniqlo, said the company set up a Web page to solicit “creative-minded people” in New York City to be photographed wearing their favorite Uniqlo T-shirts for its image/ad campaign, shot by Terry Richardson. The company found 50 people, ages 17 to 26, from the MySpace cattle call while nearly 300 logged on to the Web page to be considered. Kiersztan said they had to shut down the site soon after it was launched because of the number of responses. “I’ve seen stylists do this before [set up a MySpace page to find ‘models’] but I think we’ll see this done by more and more [companies] in the future,” he offered. The campaign — which mixes the “real” people with celebrities — will launch at the end of April in Japan, in conjunction with a new UT Store in Harajuku, Tokyo, and in the U.S. in mid-May.
Uniqlo T-shirts will be available for purchase at the Tokyo store in tennis ball-type packaging via vending machines. Unfortunately, U.S. customers won’t get to experience this “futuristic convenience store” concept, but the new T-shirts will also be available worldwide at the end of April, with nearly 100 styles introduced to the New York global flagship each month. — Amy Wicks