Worth magazine will be pretty junk mail

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Are people going to spend $20 for an issue of Worth? I would suspect not.

The publicity gimmick by Sandow Media Corp., which bought Worth from CurtCo. Media last year, says a mouthful about the precarious state of the print media. First quarter magazine advertising revenue plunged 20 percent as big advertisers such as car companies continued to cut back. That figure from the Publishers Information Bureau is based on published rate cards, which is like a sticker price on a new car. Just like savvy consumers, big advertisers rarely pay full sticker price.

Worth itself has been hit by the downturn. In February, Sandow Media laid off 45 percent of the magazine's New York staff and decided to refocus the publication on wealth management and expensive toys. Worth was hurt by declines in advertising by financial firms. Though banks have staged a rebound recently, I don't see them ramping up their spending up for a while.

The magazine, which relaunches in May, could stand a refresh. The content I have seen is pedestrian. Worth's website looks like it was designed about five years ago. But Sandow has big plans for Worth, according to Advertising Age.

"A smaller, higher-quality version of the magazine -- with thicker-stock paper, more photography, and a matte finish -- will go out, for free, in a sealed envelope to 110,000 carefully selected high-net-worth individuals," the publication said. "As bizarrely timed as the relaunch may feel in this economy, Worth sees its content as more relevant than ever, given that wealthy people are panicky about their investments in a shaky, post-Madoff world."

So, it's really just pretty looking junk mail.

And some observers doubt that the $20 Worth cover price will make much of an impact on its target audience.

"Twenty bucks to those people is like 50 cents for us," said Palm Beach Post gossip columnist Jose Lambiet, who hob-knobs with the jet set, in an interview with DailyFinance. "Who cares? Some of them wouldn't even know what it costs for any magazine."

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