fashion-features
fashion-features

War Another Blow For Magazine World Still Reeling From ’02

Publishers and ad execs are divided on what impact the Iraqi war will have on media buying in the third quarter.

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In fact, many industry executives already were facing declines in ad pages in the third quarter because of weak consumer confidence and the sputtering economy. Rob Gregory, publisher of Rolling Stone, said, "The retail climate was already bad. I don’t see how going to war is going to make it better. Even the big American designers are feeling the pressure at retail. First there was a month of snowstorms, now there’s a war. It can’t be good."

The potential third-quarter declines are coming against 2002 figures that were already weak. Apparel ad pages in the third quarter of 2002 totaled 3,743.2, down 7.8 percent from the 4,057.5 in the third quarter of 2001, according to Publishers Information Bureau. Beauty ad pages were up 3.8 percent to 3,963 from 3,814.5, according to PIB data.

Looking forward, most publishers declined to comment on the record about which companies were slashing budgets this year, but there is no question that the Gucci Group’s advertising spending will remain at post-9/11 levels until there is a clear sign the company is on an economic upswing. Fendi is also rumored to be cutting some advertising, as are American companies like Levis and Tommy Hilfiger, both of which have had financial challenges as of late.

"It is going to affect things later on," said Steve Cohn, the editor in chief of Media Industry Newsletter. Additionally, he said, part of the reason why ad revenues looked good in the first quarter were because they are being compared to post-9/11 sales, which were terrible.

"The fashion category is doing well through May," he said, "but it’s early in the game and the latest numbers reflect issues that closed in December and January."

There are other bright spots. Harrison, for example, is expecting that beauty advertising (reflecting the famed lipstick index) will remain relatively consistent even though she said high-end European designers are cutting budgets and will remain soft.

The strength of beauty was seconded at Allure, where publisher Nancy Berger said, "after 9/11, our September issue that was on the stands actually had gains. When consumer confidence is down, beauty does better."
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