Memo Pad: Open For Business... Cheap Date

Today, as the first issue of Conde Nast Portfolio makes its debut on New York newsstands with 332 total pages, 185 of them advertising, one of the most scrutinized - and expensive - magazine launches in history will finally show its cards.

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The final ad page balance is a roughly 50-50 mix of endemic financial and business advertising with luxury, travel and automotive brands. Among the advertisers are Accenture, BMW, De Beers, Grey Goose, Prudential and Credit Suisse. Half the 10 Web sponsors of are financial advertisers. The first five spreads of the magazine are designated for business brands, to convey Portfolio's identity as a business title, said vice president and group publisher David Carey. Ralph Lauren appears as the first luxury brand, with a three-page unit surrounding Lipman's editor's letter. The 32 remaining fashion and luxury advertisers in the first issue include Burberry, Ermenegildo Zegna, Patek Philippe and Rolex. The open page rate for a four-color, four-page ad is $34,200.

Though Portfolio cuts a wide swath with advertisers, Carey sees room for improvement in the automotive and travel categories. Still, Lexus bought 10 pages in the premiere issue to launch its new branding campaign, Cadillac bought the back cover and the premiere issue carries ads from Flexjet, British Airways and Loews Hotels. Carey said he expected the fall issues would carry over 100 pages of advertising, since 10 new advertisers have already signed on to the next issue, in September, and 90 percent of advertisers in the debut issue will return then.

Portfolio starts at a 350,000 rate base and goes nationwide on April 24, and the newsstand draw is expected to hover around 200,000, with heavy distribution at airports and bookstores.

The magazine appears as nearly every business magazine competitor is busily trying to preempt Portfolio's aesthetic emphasis, which, as crafted by design director Robert Priest, evokes Lipman's oft-stated "Vanity Fair-meets-The New Yorker" philosophy. But Portfolio's executives are playing up their differences. For example, in a converted 11th-floor conference room, a place Carey likes to call his "idea lab," black leather couches from Design Within Reach are accessorized with throw pillows. On one side of each pillow is the gray pinstripe often used in Portfolio's branding; on the other, fuchsia satin is meant to signify luxury and includes a corner strip of the magazine's logo. "[Advertisers] come here, admire the pillows, and by the time they get back to the office, there's one waiting for them," said Carey proudly. Quotes from media coverage of the launch are printed on boards leaning against the walls, including one from Gawker: "Eventually We Will All Be Working for Portfolio." — Irin Carmon and Stephanie D. Smith
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