Making it to the magazine cover

Updated: Mar 31 2009, 06:21am hrs
As tough times send some publishers running for cover, marketers are running advertisements on the covers of some publications.

The April issue of Scholastic Parent & Child will carry an ad on the front cover for the first time in the 16-year history of the magazine. The ad, for a company called Smilebox, will appear in the lower right corner of the cover and carry the label advertisement in small print.

The ad, a change in the magazines policy, came after discussions between the business and editorial sides of the magazine, owned by Scholastic Inc, as well as conversations about the concept with readers.

There was a lot of thought put into it, said Nick Friedman, the editor in chief of Scholastic Parent & Child. We knew it was envelope-pushing.

The results were deemed positive enough to go ahead with the cover ad for April and to sell cover ads for subsequent issues. The next one, planned for May, is being bought by the Juicy Juice line of beverages sold by Nestle, one of the worlds largest advertisers. Wed like to do it as often as advertisers would like to do it, said Risa Crandall, vice- president for the Scholastic Parents Media unit.

An advertiser buying a front-cover ad has to buy at least one ad page inside the issue, Crandall said, for a total cost of $80,000 to $85,000. Smilebox, which enables computer users to create greetings, slide shows and scrapbooks, is buying an ad page in the issue along with ad pages in other issues this year, she added, for a total cost of around $1,54,000.

The ads represent the first time that Smilebox has advertised in Scholastic Parent & Child, said Yannis Dosios, vice-president for marketing at Smilebox in Redmond, Washington.

The appropriateness of a cover ad was something that crossed my mind initially, he added. It has to work within the context of the magazine, otherwise it will be very outlandish.

In this instance, the creative teams of the magazine and the company collaborated to produce an ad that will meet the sensitivities of what the audience of the magazine is, Dosios said.

The arrival of paid pitches on magazines front coversuntil now the province of editorial contentis emblematic of changing standards for advertising acceptability. One reason longtime policies are being rethought is the steep decline in ad revenue caused by competition from online media, coupled with the slowdown in demand for print ads due to the recession. So far two magazines are being closed: Travel and Leisure Golf, by American Express Publishing, and Best Life, by Rodale.

NY Times / Stuart Elliott