American Pie 18.09.03

Many editors profess to dislike advertorials. In fact, many editors in the past refused to let their editorial staff write the material. But some editors, out of financial necessity, are learning to overcome their objections. This month, no fewer than nine Condé Nast publications, including Vogue and Vanity Fair, carry a nine-page advertorial for Mercedes-Benz. At Hearst, Esquire, Town & Country and O, the Oprah magazine, will carry special sections for Tourneau Watch next month. One reason is the shrinking of regular advertising. Advertisers are demanding more from magazines, says Dana Field, executive publisher of FHM. This month, FHM is devoting several pages to a party at Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas, a thinly disguised promotion for MGM’s Mirage Hotel. It even allowed the magazine’s fashion editor to supervise the promotion, which is a “no-no” in the eyes of the American Society of Magazine Editors. FHM is not alone. Maxim recently ran a spread about a men’s business trip that openly extolled how Miller Lite beer can liven up any party. Maxim’s editors again helped to produce the section. Officials at the American Society of Magazine Editors are concerned by the trend, but rarely take any official action. They prefer to let the magazines do the policing.

Some reporters who travelled with President Bush to a military base in California were upset at having to wear press badges that included a picture of Bush in combat gear. The White House insisted it was not an attempt to propagandise the President. Explained a spokesman: “We try to include a small picture on the passes that reflects the theme of the event. They make nice keepsakes.”

Many thought the men’s magazine Oui had gone out of business. But not so. In fact it is cashing in on the governor’s recall election in California to reprint its 1977 interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, in which the actor talked about his pot-smoking and aberrant sexual behaviour. The issue with porn star Jenna Haze on the cover hits the news-stands this week – just before the vote takes place.

After many months of denial, Primedia has acknowledged it is putting New York Magazine on the block. The weekly, which was started by writer/editor Clay Felker and was once owned by Rupert Murdoch, sells about 500,000 copies, but like many magazines it has been suffering from the advertising depression. Nevertheless there are expected to be many would-be buyers, including American Media, which owns the National Enquirer and other tabloids, Rolling Stone owner Jann Wenner and Steve Brill, who founded Court TV. The only stumbling block is the asking price of at least $75m (£47m).

Who dumped what appeared to be animal remains in the Times Square offices of Condé Nast? The remains were found in a janitor’s closet not far from the office of Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, who has been under attack lately from animal rights groups because she refuses to drop ads and features about fur coats and fashion accessories that use animal skins.

Last year, protesters soaked themselves with fake blood and crawled in the street outside the Condé Nast building on the day Wintour received an award from the Fashion Designers of America. They have also left pools of blood on her doorstep, sent a box of maggots to her office and even slapped a dead raccoon on her plate while she was dining at one of New York’s top restaurants. NY police are investigating.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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