Sarah Jessica Parker

<B>ALL THE VIXEN:</B> Like the wildebeest, magazine publishers prefer to travel in herds. Witness Vibe, which is launching a women’s fashion-and-beauty spin-off, Vibe Vixen, that will go head-to-head against Suede, the new Essence extension that...

ALL THE VIXEN: Like the wildebeest, magazine publishers prefer to travel in herds. Witness Vibe, which is launching a women’s fashion-and-beauty spin-off, Vibe Vixen, that will go head-to-head against Suede, the new Essence extension that launched earlier this month. Despite the timing, Vibe editor in chief Mimi Valdés insists the similarities between the titles are superficial. “This is different than what Suede is doing,” she said. “It’s not a straight-up women’s book. It’s more like a girly version of what we do at Vibe.”

The first issue of Vibe Vixen, containing 80 pages of editorial, hits in February, with another slotted to arrive next fall. The issue will be sent to Vibe’s female subscribers, with another 200,000 copies distributed to newsstands, for a total rate base of 425,000. Unusual for a music magazine, Vibe’s audience is evenly split between men and women. Despite that, “we’ve always done the magazine kind of from a male perspective,” said Valdés. “This is our opportunity to speak directly to the ladies without worrying about turning off the guys.” It’s also an opportunity to bring in the fashion and cosmetics advertisers that don’t want to spend their dollars on a dual-audience title. Vibe’s ad pages were down 11.5 percent through September, to 810.8, according to Media Industry Newsletter, while newsstand sales were down 9.4 percent in the year’s first half, averaging 164,037.

Should the test issues lead to a full-scale launch, Vibe Vixen will compete not only with Suede but also with Trace, an independent title that’s been plying the multicultural waters since 1996. Trace editor in chief Claude Grunitzky claimed to welcome the company. “It’s good to see the space being legitimated by big players like Vibe and Essence,” he said — for now. — Jeff Bercovici

TRUFFLE SHUFFLE: The power of the press is indisputable, but is it also quantifiable?

Godiva is currently auctioning a chance to have a private dinner with five celebrities and celebrity chefs on its Web site, godiva.com, to promote a new line of limited-edition truffles, and nearly a week into the auction, press rather than popularity is driving bids. On the block are dinners for eight with each of the following: Ben Affleck and chef Todd English in Boston; Sarah Jessica Parker and chef Mario Batali in New York; Leonardo DiCaprio and chef Govind Armstrong in Los Angeles; Benjamin Bratt and chef Gary Danko in San Francisco, and Ricky Martin and chef Allen Susser in Miami. Godiva secured the impressive nose count by offering to donate all proceeds to charity. But, it seems, agreeing to host one of the dinners and actively promoting one’s participation in the event are two different matters.

This story first appeared in the September 28, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Affleck, who talked to USA Today on Thursday, quickly took the lead, chased by dark horse Martin, who, though he’s been out of the spotlight for several years, was surprisingly in second place after his interview with the Associated Press was picked up by papers as far away as India. Of course, what’s the Hindustan Times compared to the widely read Gotham tabloid, the New York Post? When an item on Sarah Jessica Parker ran in Saturday’s Post, bids for her dinner instantly doubled. As of press time, Parker was in front with $25,300, while Affleck had $16,000 and Martin, $13,000. Meanwhile, the normally sought-after DiCaprio, who has been unable to do press due to scheduling conflicts, had the fourth-highest bid at $7,400. And Bratt? He shunned press altogether and did not submit a photo for the auction site. He trails the group with a disappointing $2,650. — Sara James