STYLE, FASHION WINNERS IN HALF
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — Fashion and lifestyle magazines have a lot to brag about in the first half.
InStyle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, W, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, House & Garden, Self and Vanity Fair all reported ad-page gains in the half, and publishers say they expect the good times to continue.
Some are looking for record-breaking blockbusters in September, thanks to a healthy economy and a luxury market that won’t quit.
Potential trouble spots include beauty and the Internet. Although there are plenty of major fragrance and cosmetic launches planned for the second half, some magazines still find the beauty category problematic. And after a windfall of Internet business in the fourth quarter of 1999, publishers say they’re approaching that business very cautiously in light of all the dot-com consolidations and anticipated business failures.
The magazine with the most bragging rights so far this year is InStyle. Including the national equivalent ad pages of InStyle’s two (newsstand-only) stand-alone issues in the first half — Makeover and Weddings — its total ad pages for the first time topped Vogue’s by approximately 37.5 pages.
The June Media Industry Newsletter boxscore numbers released this week showed that InStyle carried more ad pages than Vogue. However, MIN said there was an error in its initial calculation; MIN overstated the 108 ad pages in InStyle’s Weddings issue since it was only distributed on the newsstand and would only account for 43.4 national equivalent pages. It also omitted the 47 ad pages in Makeover, which account for 19 national equivalent pages. Taken together, both those stand-alone issues would have added approximately 62.4 ad pages, according to InStyle publisher Lou Cona, as shown in revised chart.
“The first half was amazing. It’s the first time we came out ahead of Vogue,” said Cona. “Our fashion business is really where we grew the most. We were up 92 percent.” Jewelry and watches were up 58 percent, and the beauty business was up almost 9 percent, according to Cona. “The European business was great. It’s hard to tell you who we’re not getting.”
For the second half, two more stand-alone issues are planned. One is The Look, a shopping guide, which will be published in August, and the other is InStyle Entertaining, appearing in November.
Asked how he felt about InStyle’s ascension, Richard Beckman, senior vice president, publisher of Vogue, replied, “Lots of magazines carry more ad pages than Vogue. I don’t consider InStyle a fashion magazine. It’s more of a personality-driven magazine. From my point of view, I’m not going to put mass products and packaged-goods products in Vogue. Vogue is about branding and fashion. Vogue is the most powerful fashion magazine in the world, and we are clearly the leading fashion magazine in the world.
“Our business is growing quite well,” continued Beckman, noting that while beauty was flat, fashion business was up. “We did quite well in the first half, and we expect the same pace of increase in the second half.”
Ad pages from Vogue’s two editorial onserts in the first half — which reach 80 percent of its circulation — were included in the MIN total, but each ad counted as 8/10 of a page, said Beckman.
“As with every other magazine,” Beckman said, “we’re getting our share of the [dot-com] business. One has to be cautious in making sure we’re getting paid for that business.”
He said the July issue “was up nicely,” and August will be up about 7 to 8 percent. September will once again be an “800-pound gorilla+.It will be up from last year. We’re right in the thick of it. We’ll have a shot of it being the biggest Vogue ever.”
Vogue will reprise its TV ad campaign, breaking in the fall. For the second year, Vogue will also cosponsor the Vogue-VH1 Awards on Friday, Oct. 20, which will have a special section in the November issue.
Elle, which had a 4.7 percent ad page gain for the half, said its increases came across the board.
“Beauty’s pretty static, without major spikes. We’re starting to get used to that. The fashion business is up about 10 percent,” said Carl Portale, senior vice president and publisher. Fashion’s gains came mostly from the Italians, while the automotive business was flat.
“I think September will be a blockbuster,” said Portale. Last year, Elle ran 324 pages in September, and he’s anticipating 350 pages this September. “If we do that, I’ll be ecstatic,” he said.
Colleen Wyse, associate publisher of W, attributed first-half gains to the fashion and beauty categories. “Where we see the second-half growth is in luxury automotive and jewelry,” said Wyse.
In August, W will once again publish its “Black Book” guide to luxury goods and services, and in September it will run “Men’s Portfolio,” with the theme “The Men of Media.”
“September is looking great. W has big goals to hit. Last year was a huge year for us. We’re looking to be up,” said Wyse.
“We did well in fashion and beauty [in the first half],” said Cynthia Lewis, publisher of Harper’s Bazaar.
She said the fashion business was flat, but beauty was up 54 percent. Tobacco was up 120 percent, she added. Through June, HB has run 45 pages of dot-com business, but Lewis is cautious about that category.
Although September is too early to predict, she said, “I’m sure we’ll beat last year’s numbers. By how much, I don’t know. I’m still trying to lock in programs.”
Katherine Rizzuto, the new publisher of Marie Claire, said she expects another 20 percent gain in ad pages for the second half, following the first half’s 19 percent increase.
Fashion was up 19.7 percent in ad pages, and beauty rose 16 percent. Marie Claire also had gains in footwear, cosmetics and the liquor categories. The magazine had increased growth in Italian fashion.
For Cosmopolitan, beauty was a big contributor to first-half increases.
“We had a good first half, and the beauty business was up 12 percent,” said Susan Plagemann, publisher of Cosmopolitan. New and increased business came from firms such as Donna Karan, MAC, Avon, Almay, Revlon and Victoria’s Secret. “Fashion is off somewhat for us,” she said.
“What’s taken off is the footwear category, which had a sevenfold increase,” said Plagemann. She said most of the increases came from the casual footwear business.
Commenting on Allure’s 4.8 percent gain for the first half, Suzanne Grimes, the new publisher said, “We’ve stemmed the tide, and we’re turning it around. With all due credit, the ad community has warmed up to the changes in our editorial. Every single issue has been up on the newsstand through May.”
Grimes noted that while July will be flat, August will be ahead 20 percent. “The outlook for the second half is very positive,” she said.
Self had a strong first half, with ad pages up 11.7 percent. Beth Brenner, publisher, attributed the gains to the Internet business, food and health and drugs. “As a category, beauty was up marginally.”
She said July and August are flat, “but September will be a blockbuster.”
Brenner said the casual footwear category was one of the hottest parts of its apparel business.
Deborah Fine, publisher of Glamour, which had one of the only declines among the fashion/beauty sector, attributed the decline to “a slow wean from select advertising sections.” She said the 9.4 percent decline in ad pages — eliminating advertorials — turned it into a more profitable first half than a year ago. She said run-of-book pages were only off 4 percent.
Glamour plans to launch a new sales and marketing platform called “Do Glamour” in the fall. It is a multi-pronged program, consisting of a special 100-page issue of Glamour Do’s & Don’ts, sponsored by Revlon, which consists of 50 pages of editorial and 50 pages of ads from Revlon, Sara Lee and Zale. Some 600,000 copies will be put on the newsstand, beginning Sept. 1. It will also launch a Do Glamour outdoor campaign on kiosks, co-branding with its advertisers.