APRIL: FLOWERS & SHOWERS

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — April was the kindest month for Vanity Fair, Elle, Allure and W; but for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Mirabella, it was the cruelest.
Vanity Fair, seeking to sustain a comeback, produced a love song to Hollywood that ended up the biggest issue in its history. VF Hollywood carried 211.7 ad pages, up 134 percent from the 90.5 ad pages a year ago.
W booked 151.7 ad pages, up 70 percent from last year. And Allure continues to roll along, up 30.6 percent with 136.2 pages.
Elle, meanwhile, kept the seesaw battle interesting for the number-two spot behind Vogue: With a 14.5 percent increase in April and 534.9 pages through the first four months, the magazine knocked Harper’s Bazaar out of the number-two box. HB’s first-quarter results displaced Elle from the position.
At Vanity Fair, publisher Mitchell Fox said, “If there’s any business out there in April, we certainly got a piece of it. The fashion and beauty business continues to be strong, but the corporate, financial and automotive businesses are the fastest growing segments,” he said.
But the celebrating won’t last for long: VF’s business for May will be off 7 percent.
“You can’t run the largest issue in our history and be up the next month,” said Fox. He said VF will carry 79 ad pages, versus 85 last year.
For the half, Fox expects VF to be up 159 pages, or 38 percent.
W attributes its gains in April to increases in retail and European businesses. “All the things were going in the right direction,” said Stephanie George, publisher of W. She noted that the April issue contained a Men’s Portfolio, a special California section and a regional project with Nordstrom.
The increases at W will continue into May, said George. Ad pages in May are up 25 percent, which she attributes to “jewelry, travel and a Ralph Lauren home furnishings gatefold.”
Carl Portale, publisher of Elle, attributes his magazine’s gains in April to increases in its generic categories — apparel, cosmetics, retail and accessories, while maintaining its automotive business. For May, Portale expects to be even with a year ago — running 134 ad pages.
“We had seven straight issues up, and now we’re right on the money,” said Portale. He expects Elle to be up 15 percent for the half and is once again looking for double-digit increases for the year.
Other April gainers included Self, up 13.5 percent to 121.8 pages, and Town & Country, up 18.3 percent with 60 pages.
For some, April wasn’t as sweet. Vogue was off 4.5 percent, HB declined 6.3 percent, Architectural Digest was off 8.7 percent and poor Mirabella declined a stunning 44 percent for the month, according to Media Industry Newsletter.
As noted, Mirabella was put on the selling block last week, and May will be the last issue published by News America Publishing Inc. Hachette, however, may turn into the magazine’s white knight (see related story, this page).
Harper’s Bazaar carried 517.5 ad pages through April0, and publisher Jeannette Chang said she expects ad sales to be flat in May. The May issue will feature Elizabeth Hurley on the cover and will contain a Chrysler gatefold and a 12-page exclusive insert from Hermes. She expects June to be up a few pages. “We’re picking up some new accounts and feeling good about fall,” said Chang.
Coming off a decline in April, Ron Galotti, publisher of Vogue, noted, “May is like my favorite so far.”
He said ad pages are up 14.3 percent to 217 in the May issue, which focuses on the body. The magazine will carry 40 pages of swimwear editorial. “It will cover every aspect of the body, from surgical to physical.”
Galotti said he expects to be up 8 percent in the half.

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