AUTO ADS SHIFT TO OVERDRIVE
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — It might not quite rival a quick hop on the Concorde to the City of Light, but these days, fashion publishers have added a new “must” stop to their travels: Detroit.
The automotive industry, coming off a bullish two years, has accelerated its efforts to reach women and is putting considerably more ad dollars into fashion magazines.
In fact, at a time when every fashion dollar is hard won, car advertising in women’s magazines is booming. In the fashion/beauty buy, specifically Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Fitness, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Mirabella, Self, Vogue and W, car advertising revenues jumped 22 percent in 1994 to $30.8 million from $25.1 million, according to Publishers Information Bureau.
Among the fashion/beauty magazines, automotive was the clear winner in the non-endemic categories in 1994, followed in order by cigarettes and tobacco, drugs and remedies, liquor, food, travel and computers, according to PIB.
Overall, automotive is the top-ranking advertising category in all magazines tracked by PIB, accounting for $1.24 billion in ad revenues in 1994, up from $1.09 billion in 1993.
The automotive category is expected to be even more of a lifesaver for the women’s pack this year. General Motors, for example, will more than double its spending in women’s fashion magazines in 1995, after a healthy increase in 1994.
And it’s no secret why. Women currently account for about 46 percent of all new vehicle purchases, according to J.D. Power & Associates, an international marketing information firm.
“The fashion magazines are a very credible voice to their readers,” said David Verklin, executive vice president, managing director of Hal Riney & Partners, the San Francisco ad agency that handles the Saturn account.
Of all the women’s magazines, Elle, Self and Cosmopolitan have been the greatest beneficiaries of the car industry’s new love affair with women. In 1994, Elle ran 153 car ads — a key reason the magazine was able to bump Harper’s Bazaar out of the number two spot in ad pages in fashion publishing.
Self ran 103 car pages, and Cosmopolitan carried 88 car ads, according to their respective publishers. Each report their car advertising will still increase in 1995.
Other magazines such as Vogue, W, Allure, In Style, Fitness, Glamour and Town & Country saw a flush of automotive advertising in 1994 and also anticipate growth this year.
Car executives say the highly segmented nature of women’s publishing is particularly effective in reaching a targeted audience.
For example, W, with median household income of $117,000 has won business from Lexus, Acura and BMW this year, while continuing with Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar. Fitness, meanwhile, with a median household income of $48,106, is running ads from Chrysler Jeep as well as vehicles in the introductory level, between $8,000 and $14,000, such as the Chrysler Neon and GM’s Geo Metro.
Various publishers told WWD they visit Detroit frequently — some on a monthly basis — and have stepped up their sales and marketing efforts to win more of this business.
Part of the overall increase in car advertising in the women’s fashion sector can be attributed to a détente between Condé Nast Publications and General Motors Corp.
The magazine publisher is getting a windfall of car ads as a result of a peace offering made last year by Steven T. Florio, president of Condé Nast, to GM’s Philip Guarascio, vice president, general manager, marketing and advertising, North American operations.
When Florio took over as president in 1994, one of his first moves was to patch things up with GM, which for years had refused to advertise in many of the Condé Nast magazines because of its “no discount” policy. While Florio says he wouldn’t bend the rate card, he struck a deal with GM, allowing it access to Condé Nast’s data bank — complete with reader profiles and their spending habits — and the ads started coming back.
Vogue, for example, ran 25 car ads in the first quarter of 1995, up from five in the year-ago period, said Ronald A. Galotti, publisher. It even got GM to underwrite a 7th on Sale outsert that will be polybagged with the May issue.
“They’re not coming to this company because they want ‘The Car of the Year’ award from Road & Track,” said Galotti, taking a swipe at the competition, Hachette, which publishes Elle, Road & Track and Car & Driver.
GM’s Guarascio noted, “We accelerated our use of fashion books in 1993, and were up 15 percent in 1994 versus 1993, and 35 to 40 percent in 1995 versus 1994.”
“The whole automotive business has moved from broad marketing to targeted marketing, and fashion and style emerge as a point of interest.”
Guarascio added that GM’s Buick division has a tie-in with Hearst Magazines for Buick to provide scholarships to FIT students, as well as other promotions.
Saturn, an independent subsidiary of GM that wasn’t part of the Condé Nast embargo, has been targeting women through fashion magazines since its launch in 1990.
Today, 60 percent of Saturn’s sales are to women, said Hal Riney’s Verklin, noting that in 1994, Saturn generated over $3 billion in total sales. Saturn will spend “well over $100 million” this year on advertising, and at least 5 percent, or $5 million, is targeted to women’s fashion magazines, he said.
“We target the female car buyer more than the male. We’re the first car company that hasn’t paid lip service to the female car market,” said Verklin. Saturn created the “No Dicker Sticker” policy, which removes all price negotiating from the sale. “That appeals a terrific amount to the female car market, who always thought the car-buying process was so rigid and unpleasant,” said Verklin.
“The fashion magazines have helped us build the brand and the brand image. If an ad appears in Elle, Vogue or Glamour, it says something about the brand. It helps deliver some of Saturn’s sophistication and sense of style.”
Since 1990, Saturn has consistently advertised in Elle, Vogue, Mademoiselle, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Self, and in the last quarter of 1994, added Allure.
The Ford Motor Co., as well, is courting female customers.
“We’ve been a longtime advertiser in women’s magazines,” said Bob Mancini, director of media, senior vice president of J. Walter Thompson, which handles the Ford business.
“Ford, overall, recognizes the importance of women’s magazines to car sales. Women have been exceedingly more important in the buying process.”
Mancini said that Ford has been an advertiser in mass-oriented magazines such as Better Homes & Garden, Good Housekeeping and Women’s Day, as well as fashion magazines such as Mademoiselle, Vogue and Elle.
Mancini said the corporate buy isn’t a significant factor in the decision. “For all magazines, it’s important the individual title stands on its own merit. The best benefit to a magazine is an environment. We are buying specific environments to reach people in a certain way. Only the individual title can give you that. The rest is fallout.”
It’s no secret that Hachette’s highly flexible corporate buy has been a big boon for sister publication Elle, which has been bringing in plenty of car ads in the last two years, reportedly at very attractive rates.
Explaining Hachette’s corporate buy, David Pecker, president and chief executive officer, said, “The individual fashion magazines have a very difficult time seeing a media director at Ford. When I created the corporate package, it got me in the door and the rest of the selling went on. I put individual people in those areas.” Pecker said the corporate deal allows for frequency discounts.
Elle ran 153 pages of car advertising in 1994, up from 92 pages in 1993. “There’s been, year to year, almost 15 additional launches of new cars,” said Pecker. Pecker said he expects another 10 percent increase in car advertising for the year.
In 1994, Elle also broke the Mercedes-Benz business. Pecker said Elle will also carry cars from the lower-priced Dodge and Neon to Cadillac Seville, as well as Suzuki, Honda and Toyota.
“Awesome” is how Beth Fuchs Brenner, publisher of Self, described car activity at her magazine. From Detroit, Self is carrying ads from Chrysler, General Motors and Ford.
When making a pitch, Brenner plays up the active aspect of the Self reader, who’s educated and making good money.
In 1994, Self carried 103 car ads, up from 65 in 1993. “The category grew 38 percent,” said Brenner. The first half of 1995, she said, will also be a big boon for car ads because of launches and the addition of Chevrolet, Isuzu, Subaru and Ford to the magazine.
Today, automotive is Self’s third-largest ad category, following beauty and footwear, respectively. Self has also seen a lot of action from Sport Utility Vehicles like Jeep.
Car advertising is a big category at Cosmopolitan, which carries multiple divisions of GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Hyundai and Mazda.
“We’ve been very involved with the automotive business ever since Detroit and Japan decided to go after women,” said publisher Tony Hoyt.
“Ford and Toyota want to get the 18-to-34-year-old-customer, and that’s 60 percent of our audience,” said Hoyt. “They want to get these people when they’re starting out and buying their first car.”
“We used to be number one in car advertising,” said Hoyt, recalling 1992, when Cosmo was ahead of Elle, Glamour and Self, but Hoyt attributes Hachette’s corporate buy to knocking them out of their top position.
As for Cosmo, he said, “The corporate buy does help. We run with these people and give normal volume discounts. Mark Goldschmidt [vice president, director of Hearst Magazines Corporate Marketing & Sales] will go to a Chrysler and do the corporate buy, but each magazine has to make the sale.”