Famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz won the privilege of being the first to snap Suri, the celebrity baby of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who appears in a series of family portraits in October's issue of Vanity Fair. It's unclear whether the decision to expose the young demigod to mortal eyes was made before or after Cruise's rupture with Paramount Pictures--but regardless, after months of seclusion and speculation, it's clearly meant to improve Cruise's image.
Gossip mags have had a field day with Cruise, Holmes, and the enigmatic infant. Cruise has been a target ever since his ardent expressions of affection for Holmes on the talk show circuit, which were likely meant to convey sincerity but instead suggested instability. His proclamations on psychopharmacology, including an attack on Brooke Shields for using antidepressants during a post-partum depression, made him a laughingstock. They also drew attention to the idiosyncratic doctrines of the Church of Scientology, of which he is a member.
Against this backdrop, the concealment of Suri just provided more grist for the mill. In a celebrity-obsessed society driven by visibility, it could only mean they were hiding something: ritual tattoos prescribed by Scientology? A mutant? Or maybe just an ugly baby? Some even speculated that Suri didn't even exist, and that the whole pregnancy had been a hoax. So the final showing of the child, reminiscent of the first public viewing of a newborn princess in medieval times, may humanize the family and soften Cruise's image. Leibovitz's camera indeed not only captures the beauty of the parents--already known--but a gorgeous child as well.
Setting aside the PR implications for Cruise, the Suri exclusive is clearly a bonanza for Vanity Fair, which has lately struggled with sluggish subscription rates and declining ad pages. According to the latest stats from the Publishers Information Bureau (PIB), Vanity Fair's ad pages for the year to date are down 14.7 percent from last year--driving a 10.9 percent drop in revenue. Meanwhile, according to the last report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), subscriptions were essentially flat with a 2.2 percent rise in the first half of 2006, compared to the same period last year. In this context, newsstand sales are the magazine's strong point, rising 17.2 percent on the appeal of sensational covers like the Suri photo shoot.
Most of the big titles in the celebrity and men's lifestyle arenas are suffering at the newsstand. The last report from the ABC covering the first half of 2006 shows that many men's lifestyle books and celebrity titles are taking hits at the newsstand. On a year-over-year basis, Details' single-copy sales declined 19.5 percent, and Esquire fell 5.9 percent. Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly is down 24 percent, and Premiere is down 12.3 percent.
New Mag Takes Breast Cancer Survivors Beyond
Meredith Special Interest Media is launching a new semi-annual magazine for women who have survived or are currently dealing with breast cancer, called Beyond: Live & Thrive After Breast Cancer. Set to debut at newsstands on September 19th for $5.99 an issue, Beyond will carry news about the latest treatment and recovery methods, as well as profiles and pieces detailing the personal and emotional ramifications of the disease.
Kelly Kegans, editor of Beyond, described the magazine's mission: "Since more than two million American women live with breast cancer, we wanted to provide this community a resource of support, inspiration and hope." The magazine's advisory board on this major health issue include Susan Brown, the health manager at the Susan G. Komen Foundation; Carolyn M. Kaelin, director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center and a breast cancer survivor; and Lillie Shockney, administrative director at Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Center.
In addition to long feature articles, the magazine offers a section of shorter "Pink Pages," including a calendar and guide for races and products supporting the fight against the disease, as well as tips on nutrition and fashion, stress, and fatigue. Feature articles in the first issue cover issues such as breast reconstruction, the short-term and long-term mental effects of chemotherapy, genetic heritability, and skin care during cancer treatment.
Doubledown Media to Launch Dealmaker
A new trade magazine targeting investment bankers is set to launch in November, according to Doubledown Media, which will publish Dealmaker on a monthly schedule. Dealmaker will mimic another successful Doubledown title, Trader Monthly, by focusing not just on making money in investment banking but how bankers like to spend it. Not surprisingly, advertisers include players in the financial industry and luxury goods categories.
In praising the magazine, Randall Lane, the president of Doubledown, also seemed to hint that the target audience is (almost) entirely male: "There is no other way to reach all these guys as a whole. It is a highly desirable community to reach for these advertisers because of all the money that our readers generate, make and spend... One of the fundamental differences between traders and investment bankers is how much they travel--these guys are on the road 100 to 150 days a year. We want to get under the hood of business travel."
Sporting News Gets Traded
Two weeks after the venerable title announced a record-breaking number of ad pages for its September issues, Sporting News is changing hands, with owner Vulcan Sports Inc. making the pass-off to Advance Publications' American City Business Journals. The deal includes the sale of the magazine, its online and book divisions, and its radio presence, Sporting News Radio Network.
In late August the title trumpeted its greatest period of commercial success since its founding over 120 years ago, with September ad revenue jumping 34 percent over the same month last year. Individually, the September 8th and 15th issues showed even bigger increases, with the first jumping 62 percent on a year-over-year basis, and the second a remarkable 130 percent. Meanwhile, the publication's Web site is also breaking records, with 155 percent growth in ad revenue for September 2006 over the same month last year. Rick Allen, the title's president and CEO, pointed to innovative strategies--including blogs and social networking--as part of the reason for the site's growth.
Rodale Launches 24-Hour Fitness Mag
Rodale, a leading custom publisher, is partnering with the 24 Hour Fitness chain to produce You24 magazine, a title covering fitness issues that will be distributed to members beginning in January, 2007. The fitness chain has over 3 million members nationwide. Denise Favorule, senior vice president at Rodale's marketing solutions groups, said "our deep experience and success in healthy, active lifestyle and affinity publishing makes us the perfect partner for 24 Hour Fitness, the premiere health club whose members are a high-powered force in the marketplace." Rodale also publishes Men's Health, Women's Health, Prevention, and WebMD, the magazine.
Kate Kelly Smith Moves to House Beautiful
Kate Kelly Smith--vice president of Hearst Magazines and formerly publisher of Rodale's Women's Health--will be the next publisher of House Beautiful, Hearst announced last week. Smith is replacing David Arnold, who has been publisher since 1999. Between 1994 and 2001, Smith served at House Beautiful as associate publisher, advertising director, and trade advertising manager.