CAMPAIGN INTERNATIONAL: MEDIUM OF THE MONTH - George magazine has its work cut out if it is to thrive without its founder

When the young, sax-playing Bill Clinton trounced George Bush in the 1992 US presidential election, it seemed that a new era of politics as celebrity had arrived in America. After all, if a candidate who appeared on MTV discussing his underwear could get to the White House, something was definitely up.

When the young, sax-playing Bill Clinton trounced George Bush in

the 1992 US presidential election, it seemed that a new era of politics

as celebrity had arrived in America. After all, if a candidate who

appeared on MTV discussing his underwear could get to the White House,

something was definitely up.



The resultant belief in the importance of pop culture to politics

provided the basis for George magazine, named after George Washington,

which launched with much media fanfare in 1995. Of course, it could

point to more than a trendy president to illustrate its vision. Its

editor-in-chief was a man who epitomised power as glamour, John F

Kennedy Jr.



The ’political lifestyle’ magazine’s initial ad sales broke all

records.



By the end of 1997, the monthly title boasted a circulation of more than

400,000 and a subscription renewal rate of 55 per cent. As a journalist,

it was a thrilling title to work for. But a year is a long time in

political journalism and George’s success had begun to slide prior to

Kennedy’s tragic death last summer. The Clinton impeachment fiasco

punctured the upbeat patriotic mood to which the magazine owed much of

its appeal, and the first half of 1999 saw circulation slipping and ad

sales in a dangerous downward spiral.



However, Kennedy’s death made George the most talked about magazine in

America once again, and the hike in newsstand sales that followed was

too tempting for Kennedy’s former partner, Hachette Filipacchi

Magazines.



The publisher opted to buy out Kennedy’s share of George and keep

publishing without its founder.



A good investment? Kennedy left George with strong demographics. The

readership is 52 per cent women, with an average age of 39 and an

average household income of almost dollars 70,000. This mix is reflected

in the advertising, with Chanel vying with the likes of General Motors.

However, if the magazine is to reach Hachette’s target of 40 ad pages an

issue by May, it must prove it can survive without its former leader’s

mystique.



Hachette is gambling on this year’s presidential election for a

boost.



However, George could struggle to provide definitive election coverage

since its monthly format leaves it at a disadvantage next to weeklies

such as Time.



The greater problem may be that the magazine’s vision of politics as

pop-culture is no longer unique. Since Jay Leno made the president’s sex

life a topic for late-night stand-up and Warren Beatty started talking

about a presidential bid, everyone knows that politics and entertainment

are now the same. Whether they like it or not is a different matter.



George fact file

Publisher                 Hachette Filipacchi Magazines

Cover price               dollars 2.95

Frequency                 Monthly

Ad rate for full page     dollars 36,220

Circulation               450,000



Edited by Anna Griffiths Tel: 0181-267 4892 E-mail:

anna.griffiths@haynet.com.



Become a member of Campaign from just £45 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Why creative people have lost their way

What better way to kick off Campaign's relaunch than with another think piece on the current failings of our industry, written by an embittered, pretentious creative who misses "the way things used to be"...

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).