World: Medium of the week - The Asian Wall Street Journal gets more personal

The section provides Asian brands with a more general outlet, Lucy Aitken reports. Fancy a swanky lunch at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong? The Asian Wall Street Journal's weekly Personal Journal section can help. It's promoting 70 restaurants in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

The scheme, which builds on Personal Journal's monthly Eat section, offers classy dining at less intimidating prices until 18 June.

HSBC enjoyed sole advertiser status for the Eat section in The Wall Street Journal's Personal Journal section in Asia and Europe for most of 2003, and the bank tailored creative executions around the region covered in the editorial. The paper also produced a booklet, also called Eat, in association with the bank.

Anthony Lau, HSBC's Hong Kong-based senior advertising and brand manager, explains: "The main advantage is to reinforce that HSBC understands cultural differences."

Cultural differences are an ongoing theme in Personal Journal. Reginald Chua, the editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal, says that the section recognises Asia's blink-and-you'll-miss-it pace of change: "Asians have had their lives dramatically upturned over the past 30 years. People have gone from working in rice fields to living in skyscrapers, and they struggle to grapple with those changes. Personal Journal addresses that. We pay a fair amount of attention to food, for instance, because food is a chronicler of culture in Asia. In China, the first thing people ask you is: 'Have you eaten?'"

He continues: "We've also relaunched our personal finance and retirement planning section to reflect changes such as increased life expectancy and the shift away from state-supported pensions." Finances are a similar priority.

A typical front page is dominated by news of the discovery of an ancient city in China; underneath is a scathing review of the US blockbuster Van Helsing. The section pays special attention to balancing Asian content with global coverage. The aim is to remain quintessentially Asian: the section typically carries between 60 and 80 per cent Asian content.

Chua is adamant that Personal Journal is the region's only lifestyle-oriented publication to offer such a high proportion of Asian editorial.

He says: "The Financial Times does have a Saturday section, which is a nice read if you're in London. But there isn't anything comparable with Personal Journal; no-one else is doing this kind of regional weekend section."

Personal Journal's commitment to local content is backed up by Lau who describes it as "one of the few international papers that has made an attempt to regionalise its content".

The section, which has US and European equivalents, gives The Asian Wall Street Journal an opportunity to attract advertisers from beyond the business world. So hotels, airlines, watches and cars appear on the pages instead of the paper's more traditional advertiser base, which is typified by finance and technology brands.

Carla Vogler, the paper's advertising director, adds that Personal Journal in Asia can work with its sister papers for global reach. "We work hard to give advertisers synergy in their positions throughout the three titles," she stresses.

Section title: Personal Journal

Newspaper: The Asian Wall Street Journal

Ownership: Dow Jones

Launched: April 1999 (Asian Wall Street Journal, 1976)

Frequency: Weekly (every Friday)

Circulation: 80,750 (HK ABC, July-December 2003)

Typical advertisers: Hyatt, Intercontinental, Ritz-Carlton

Cover price: HK$15

Rival publications: Financial Times, International Herald Tribune

Full-page ratecard (four colour): US$45,214.88

Typical subscriber's average net worth: US$1,788,000 (2003

subscriber survey)