BY GEORGE, IT’S OVER

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Despite a 25 percent gain in circulation in the past year, advertisers never really flocked to George magazine and its end seemed inevitable. To no one’s surprise, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines pulled the plug on Thursday.
The political magazine was launched to great fanfare in 1995 by John F. Kennedy Jr. It will publish its final issue in March.
Jack Kliger, president and chief executive officer of Hachette, told WWD that over the past two months, the dearth of advertising emerged as a real threat to the publication. Ad pages were off 30 percent last year, he said.
“We’re very proud of the product and the reader response to the product. The saddest part is readers were strongly behind it. The problem was we couldn’t get advertisers to support it the same way. We found a reader niche, but not an advertiser niche,” said Kliger.
Kliger noted that when Hachette bought the magazine outright in October 1999 — three months after Kennedy was killed in a plane crash — its circulation rate base was 400,000. Currently its rate base is 500,000, a 25 percent increase in a little over a year. However, the magazine’s ad pages have steadily declined. According to Media Industry Newsletter, it carried 691 ad pages in 1998; 485 ad pages in 1999 and 302 ad pages in 2000 (with two fewer issues).
“The reality is it’s hard to publish a magazine successfully based on reader and circulation issues. You need a certain amount of advertising support. What emerged was there really was not an ad base.” Kliger said the forecast for the magazine’s two biggest ad categories, automotive and thought leaders (i.e., foundations) was headed southward. “The prognosis for advertising, in general, has turned south the past two to three months,” he added.
According to sources, George lost between $8 million and $10 million last year. “The problem is when you’re losing money on a magazine, the more it grows, the more money you lose,” said Kliger, who declined to confirm that figure.

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