For September Ad Sales, Fashion Mags Need A Hook

Elle 2010 September covers

Elle released a range of covers for its September 2010 issue, which also marked the title’s 25th anniversary in print.

Though the issues haven’t yet thudded onto newsstands, the ad page numbers for September’s fashion magazines are in, and they’re, well, middling.  In a side-by-side comparison with last year, what’s clear is that the titles demonstrating either a particular dip or a high are showing numbers that correlate to some kind of hook.

  • The most notable ad page numbers were from Glamour: the 2010 September issue had a 57.5% increase over 2009, to 241 total ad pages, whereas this year’s numbers were flat.  The reason?  Last year’s issue was closely tied in with the launch of the magazine’s iPad app.  This year, the mag didn’t have a similar pillar.
  • Elle dipped 6.8% in total ad pages over last year’s September issue — but last year the title was celebrating its 25th anniversary.
  • W‘s numbers were similar to last year, going up by 3%, but Condé Nast made the case that beating 2010 by much was hard, since last year was a boon for the title, with 249 September ad pages over 192 in 2009.  But 2010 drummed up good attention, because it happened to be W‘s first September issue with a brand new editor, Stefano Tonchi.
  • And in a similar case, this year’s September issue of Lucky brought in 10 new advertisers and saw an 8% jump in total ad pages — but the magazine also has a new EIC, in the form of Brandon Holley (formerly of Jane and ElleGirl).

Anniversaries, lauded new editors, iPad launches: they’re all means for generating advertisers’ interest.  Now, what are fashion magazines to do during the years they’re not making new inroads?  It seems like that’s when their initiatives could (and possibly should) get really creative.