World: Medium of the Week - Newsweek International launches Chinese edition

Newsweek Select adds to a global network of ten local editions, Lucy Aitken writes. China's GDP is forecast to grow by 8.4 per cent during 2004 and its 1.3 billion population is an attractive long-term prospect for Western brands.

Media owners are acting fast to benefit. It's not just Rupert Murdoch who is extending his empire; consumer magazines are also getting in on the act. Maxim and OK! are two titles scheduled to launch in China this year. And now Newsweek is trying its luck too, building on its network of ten local editions around the globe.

Newsweek Select, a Chinese-language monthly, will launch in June as a joint venture between Newsweek International and the Hong-Kong based Vertex Group. It will aim to soak up budgets from the increasing number of global blue-chip brands in China.

Newsweek Select will target China's affluent and educated elite, with 77 per cent of the magazine's total circulation to be distributed around Beijing/Tianjin, Shanghai and Guangzhou/Shenzhen.

Ron Javers, the assistant managing editor at Newsweek International and the brains behind Newsweek International's expansion, says: "Everyone looks at China in terms of being that 'billion people' place. I look at it as a place of about 200,000 people because we're going for people at the top demographic levels. That's a much smaller universe."

It will mostly be distributed through controlled circulation, although Chinese readers hungry for a mix of business news, health, technology and entertainment will be able to pick it up at airports, on planes, book shops and hotel kiosks. Forbes China, Fortune China and Harvard Business Review China are also sold in those locations, so Newsweek Select will jostle for attention, hoping to catch the eye of high-powered business travellers.

Chris Skinner, the media director at OMD in Hong Kong, is critical. "They're quite late into the market and the biggest weakness of Newsweek is that it's basically a translation from the English version and doesn't have much local content; the lack of local business coverage will make it less attractive to readers. Although Newsweek will leverage its worldwide network, profile and reputation, it's quite different to other publications in China as it's more lifestyle-oriented," he says.

So will the launch appear on the media schedules of any OMD clients?

"We operate a 'wait and see' policy unless we know it's going to be a winner," he adds.

Ownership: Newsweek and Vertex Group

Reader profile: Affluent, educated and influential Chinese readers

Launch date: June 2004

Potential advertisers: HSBC, Rolex and Ricoh

Full-page ratecard: $12,300

Initial print run: 80,000

Frequency: Monthly

Rival publications: Forbes China, BusinessWeek China, Time Asia, Chief

Executive China, Fortune China, Harvard Business Review China

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