World: Medium of the Week - Amex extends Departures to European customers

The title's audience should attract advertising by luxury brands, Mark Tungate says Even the most aloof of luxury brands has shown an interest in the pan-European arrival of Departures, the magazine for American Express Platinum cardholders.

Departures is an urbane glossy covering fashion, travel and lifestyle for people who demand the best. Its new European edition is published quarterly in four languages (English, French, German and Italian) and distribution covers those markets plus Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden and Austria. Its second issue is due this month.

The German publishing house Journal International was behind the launch, having previously published a magazine solely for German Platinum Amex cardholders. It also produces a separate magazine for European holders of the legendarily elite Centurion Amex card (annual fee $2,500).

Michael Klotz, the associate group publisher, explains: "Departures has existed in the US since 1989. The European launch is the result of a new partnership between ourselves, American Express Europe and American Express USA, which is the licencer of the title."

Nancy La Loggia, the account manager for the luxury brands group Richemont at Mediaedge: cia in London, confirms: "The magazine is specifically targeted at American Express Platinum customers, so there is no wastage, as there might be with an in-flight or a general lifestyle title. We will be recommending it to our client."

Platinum cardholders skew slightly younger than the 45- to 60-year-old Centurion elite, although both groups can be described as "opinion leaders".

"The card member is predominantly male, but we know from our research that the magazine is also intensely read by the women in the household. Very often, they are the decision-makers when it comes to travel and lifestyle purchases," Klotz says.

He adds that cardholders who have reached Platinum level have generally been American Express customers for years, so a print extension of the brand is likely to be welcomed. "And as we do not have to compete on the newsstands, we don't have to play it safe with the editorial, filling it with celebrities and bare flesh. This helps our editorial integrity."

Indeed, Klotz feels that running a classy customer magazine is even more demanding than publishing a consumer title. "We have very affluent and experienced readers who are not only well-travelled, but also know a lot about luxury products. They expect insider know-how. That is why we run cutting-edge features written by experts in their field."

Between 40 and 60 per cent of the copy in the European issues will be adapted from the US title, but each edition will also include market-specific material. "Examples are fashion shoots, dining, automotive features and some travel articles. Each edition will have a local touch," Klotz says.

Frequency: Quarterly

First published: (Europe) May 2004

Average cost of full-page colour ad: 9,970 euros (single edition)

Typical advertisers: Cartier, BMW

Circulation: 186,000

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