VIVIAN, MEET MARIE CLAIRE

Byline: Janet Ozzard

NEW YORK — In a fusion of print and Internet, Marie Claire and the interactive e-tail Web site Vivianlives have signed an exclusive cross-marketing deal to start with the magazine’s March issue.
Vivianlives chronicles the life of a fictional, animated 24-year-old New Yorker named Vivian Livingston, using her daily life as a framework for various products. For example, visitors can look at her CD collection and then buy the CDs via a link to another site, or check out her bathroom and buy beauty products. There are also information areas on the site, “live” chats, Vivian’s journal and a “Viv-cam” that follows the character 24 hours a day.
Now, Vivian will also be found reading Marie Claire. In an arrangement that Katherine Rizzuto, Marie Claire’s publisher, said involved “a little money and a little barter,” the magazine and the site will be building a two-way relationship.
Rizzuto said the two hooked up because “Vivian is funny, she’s hip, she’s whacky and chic, she’s up-to-speed on anything new.” And that makes for a perfect match with readers as well as advertisers.
This is the second deal that Marie Claire has signed with an Internet company; just two months ago, it announced a venture with a technology company called Ultigo that was supposed to give an added dimension to shopping on the magazine’s Internet ad pages. However, Ultigo folded a few weeks later.
These days, getting involved with a Web site has risks, no matter how good the books look before the deal is done, said Rizzuto.
“But you have to take risks, and I think Vivianlives is a very, very solid site,” she said. Sherrie Krantz, who launched the site a year ago after working in public relations for Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, said the partnership is a great boost not just for business, but for visibility as well. Starting with the March issue, Marie Claire will include at least one page a month about Vivian, including a promotional page that will showcase advertisers’ products featured on the site.
One of the regular Vivianlives characters, Sophie, will get a job at the magazine as a merchandising editor.
“The fact that Vivian scored a full page in Marie Claire is major for us, because we don’t advertise,” said Krantz. “We’ve grown because of the editorial we’ve gotten and by word of mouth. I mean, we have 16 employees, half of whom work out of my apartment.”
Of course, both parties are benefiting from the deal.
“It’s very hard for companies to get a viable online presence,” she said. “I don’t believe in banners anymore, most people don’t. We reach a very key demographic, the 14-to-30 age group.” That, concurred Krantz and Rizzuto, works well for advertisers aiming at this group because being featured on a site with a strong editorial voice is akin to getting a celebrity endorsement.
“I’m going to tell clients that it gives them great exposure,” said Rizzuto, “and a coolness factor.”

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