World: Medium of the Week - Metro International adds New York title to its stable

The New York issue sticks to Metro's successful editorial format, Ann Cooper reports Last week, New York commuters were treated to Donna Karan-clad lovelies handing out the city's latest free tabloid offering, Metro. The paper joins Metro International's network of 35 papers in 100 cities in 16 countries.

Aimed at those within a 20-mile radius of the city, the New York Metro follows the same editorial format as its sister publications in Boston and Philadelphia, as well as further afield: a mix of local and international news, often supplied by news associations.

Metro expects a daily New York readership of 850,000, even though its arrival comes six months after the launch of amNew York, which prints 200,000 copies. Both are aimed at the same magnetic advertising demographic: the young, affluent 18- to 34-year-olds. And both are after the same advertiser base.

"We have no rival, it's a new playing field," Metro's editor-in-chief, Stefano Hatfield, says. "AmNew York is a rip-off of us."

So how exactly does it differ from amNew York? "We're different in three ways," Toby Constantine, the vice-president for global marketing and research, says. "We've got so much exposure from around the world, so we'll deliver a product better suited to the New York market. It'll be less of a free paper and more of a real product. Second, the advertising content is higher quality. Plus, we have more copies and better distribution."

He may be right, according to Brett Stewart, the director of print for Universal McCann: "There's definitely a market for it in New York. The genre should be successful because it fills a void. RedEye in Chicago has been a success. And it looks good and on target. The challenge will be in getting revenue from advertisers as it's not a high gloss environment. But there will be a large client base, which is appealing to advertisers."

Advertisers in the first issue include a mix of retailers such as ABC, car dealers including Mercedes, travel companies, financial services including Chase Manhattan, technology and telecoms companies. The distribution is 70 per cent brand and 30 per cent retail, Constantine says.

A guerilla ad campaign created by McCann Erickson London, with media buying by The Media Kitchen in New York, has launched, aimed at consumers and media buyers. It comprises radio, wild postings, banners, phone kiosks and promotional trucks, among other tactics. "We're offering a well-educated, young audience and we're not in too much of a hurry," Constantine says. "This is going to be Metro's most successful launch to date."

It's certainly one of Metro's most crucial launches. Metro International does not have papers in either Germany or the UK, a hole that has in part been plugged by a deal between Associated News' Metro and Metro International to give advertisers greater coverage. But whether New York's hard-to-reach 18- to 34-year-olds show as much interest in Metro as London's have done over the past five years remains to be seen.

Typical advertisers: Verizon, Chase Manhattan

Cover price: Free

Launch date: 5 May, 2004

Rival publications: AmNew York

Typical reader profile: 18-34, educated, affluent

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