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Family's the 'In' Thing--and Publishers Know It

May 26, 1987|BRUCE HOROVITZ

At Al's Newsstand on Fairfax Avenue in west Los Angeles, a new category of magazine has recently squeezed its way onto the crowded shelves. And Al Brooks, who owns the 24-year-old operation, says it may be the first new magazine genre to hit his stand since computer magazines stormed in a few years ago.

Family.

Together, the magazines sound like a genealogy gone haywire. They go by names like Parenting, Fathers, Child, Children and--not to forget--Grandparents. All are non-traditional family magazines that began publishing within the past 12 months. And they signal what their creators see as a new concern by baby boomers--the family. "All of a sudden," said Samir Husni, publisher of the University, Miss.-based Samir Husni's Guide to New Magazines, "this return to the family has created a whole new nucleus of magazines."

Even the publishing giants are buying into the new family magazines. Time Inc., for example, has pumped more than $5 million into Parenting, a San Francisco-based publication, in exchange for a 49% interest. And last week, the New York Times Magazine Group bought Child, a magazine for adults about up-scale products available for their children.

Both magazines have the same thing in mind: cashing in on the new parental instincts of the yuppie. "Instead of focusing on themselves, the members of the 'Me Generation' are having children and focusing on their families," said Robin Wolaner, publisher of Parenting. Advertisers are taking note. Over its first 10 issues, Parenting--where full-page ads cost $5,400--sold 200 more ad pages than its executives had projected. And they point to major advertisers that include Procter & Gamble and Ford Motor Co.

FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 4, 1987 Home Edition Business Part 4 Page 2 Column 5 Financial Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Giorgio Inc.'s current advertising firm--Eisaman, Johns & Laws Advertising Inc. of Los Angeles--is one of several firms competing for the Giorgio advertising account, which is under review. The Marketing column published May 26 incorrectly said Eisaman, Johns & Laws had bowed out.

Meanwhile, Child isn't doing too shabbily, either. At $7,000 for a full page ad, its big-name advertisers include Eastman-Kodak, Saks Fifth Avenue and Sears. "It's a whole cultural shift," said Mary Anne Sommers, publisher. "The baby boom generation finally has something new to spend its money on--its children."

But will ad agency media buyers plunk down big bucks on these new magazines? At Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt's Los Angeles office, Jim Spero says he has purchased ads for toy company client, Tyco Toys Inc., in Parenting magazine. "It's one of the coming, hot magazines," he said. But the family category, he said, is already overcrowded. "There'll be a shakeout very soon, much like in the science magazine field," said Spero, "and we'll have a couple of survivors."

Even the folks who publish Better Homes & Gardens recently jumped on the bandwagon. The Des Moines, Iowa-based publisher, Meredith Corp., is test-marketing a publication called Grandparents. After all, nearly 49 million Americans are grandparents. But this magazine is mostly targeted at new grandparents who want to read about their new roles. For example, an article in its most recent issue is titled, "Your First Grandchildren: Do's and Don'ts." "There's a re-emerging trend of the home and family as the focal point of our lives," said Jerry Ward, publisher of Grandparents. "Suddenly, grandparents don't mind being called grandparents."

Yet another new magazine, Fathers, is a "delayed reaction" to the women's movement of the 1960s, said Publisher Reed Phillips. "It's now expected for men to take on a larger role in family life," he said. In its premiere issue, the magazine interviewed Ron Reagan, the son of President Reagan, in an article titled, "What Kind of Father Was He Really?"

And what will be the magazine rage next year? "If I knew that," said one publisher, "I'd be publishing it this year."

Wrestling Tops the List

Although family magazines may be a hot trend, it is the specialty sports magazines that topped all newcomers in 1986, with 33 new entries. The most popular sports magazine category: wrestling.

Seven new wrestling magazines were introduced last year, according to Samir Husni's just-released annual guide. It lists a a record 372 start-up magazines in the United States last year, bringing the national total to 11,593 different periodicals.

Why so many? Well, Star Log Press, which publishes 11 wrestling magazines, introduced three of them in 1986, including one about female grapplers called "Beauties of Wrestling." Why 11 magazines on the same topic? Explained Norman Jacobs, publisher: "I'd rather be my own competitor then have someone else take my business."

The specialty sports category also saw plenty of new titles on bicycling. Of course, even titles can change titles very quickly. In January, Mission Hills-based Hi-Torque Publishing Co. introduced what it thought was going to be an annual magazine on BMX bicycling called RadGallery Spectacular! A few months later, it was converted into a quarterly and renamed Freestyle Spectacular. Most recently, it has evolved into a 65,000 circulation monthly magazine, American Freestyler. Why all the changes in one year? Said Publisher Roland Hinz: "It just kind of evolved that way."

Brewing Up a Promo

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