AMI introduces Thalia, the Mexican-American Oprah?…

On April 13th AMI Latino Magazine Group, a subsidiary of American Media Inc. (AMI), launched the glossy Thalia. It will initially be published as three AMI Specials. The magazine, named after the Mexican soap opera star and singer Ariadne Thalia Sodi y Miranda, had an initial circulation of 100,000. Sami Haiman, group advertising director at AMI Latino Magazine Group, tells Portadatm that Thalia's target audience is “upwardly mobile Hispanic women” between the ages of 18 and 35, college educated, with a household income of approx. US $43,000.

Donna Hernández, editor of both Thalia and Shape en español, recently told Folio, that early issues of Thalia will include makeovers of Latina women, a feature on Daisy Fuentes and her volunteer work for St. Jude's Hospital and a story about the negative health effects of stress.

Thalia hopes to have the level of success in the Hispanic market that Oprah's magazine enjoys in the African-American and mainstream markets. O Magazine — published jointly by the TV personality and Hearst – had an initial circulation of 1.6 million in 2000. By the end of 2001, the circulation had reached 2.6 million. By leveraging the popularity, or brand name, of Thalia, which is particularly strong among Mexican-Americans (60% of the U.S. Hispanic market), AMI Latino Magazine Group intends to implement a major marketing campaign to attract readers and advertisers. As Oprah and Martha Stewart have shown, it is easier for a magazine named after a popular public figure to cross-promote subscriptions and advertising with events promoted and/or starring the celebrity. Thalia has already made licensing and branding agreements with marketers interested in expanding their presence in the Hispanic market. In August 2003, Thalia and retailer Kmart launched the Thalia Sodi line of clothing, accessories and home decor. The licensing deal is an attempt to cater to Kmart's growing Hispanic customer base.

A full page ad in Thalia costs US $10,000 (CPM US$100), reflecting a relatively high cost of advertising compared to general market magazines, but comparable to other Hispanic magazines such as People en español (Time Inc., US $92) and Telenovelas (Editorial Televisa, CPM US $119). AMI's Sami Haiman tells Portadatm that the magazine targets mostly national advertisers in the beauty and packaged goods categories.

...relies on newsstand distribution.

The launch of Thalia makes three Latina mags for AMI Latino Magazine Group. Many publishers are expanding their Latina offerings in the hopes that advertisers will recognize the new publications as excellent vehicles for targeting US Hispanic women (see “Publishers and advertisers miss each other in their attempts to reach Latinas,” Portadatm No. 8, March/April 2004). Last October, AMI launched Shape en español (monthly, circ. 100,000), which targets mostly Latinas between 18-39 years old. Health, pharma and automotive are the fitness magazine's main advertising categories. Half of Shape en español's content is translated from the English edition of Shape; the other half is original content produced by Shape en español's New York based editorial team.

American Media has been able to cross-sell Shape advertisers to Shape en español. Glaxo-Smith Kline and Movado have bought advertising in both magazines.

AMI Latino Group's third editorial product is the Spanish-language supermarket tabloid Mira!>(biweekly, circ. 110,000, CPM US $91), whose readers are mostly women. Mira! features Hispanic personalities, along with a heavy dose of soap opera news. Mira!'s business model inverts the typical general market subscription/newsstand sales ratio – 75% of its circulation is at the newsstand (65% in supermarkets), while the remaining 25% are subscriptions and bulk distribution (mostly beauty salons). And,15% of Mira!'s circulation is distributed in Mexico.

American Media's supermarket based distribution system (see “Is American Media in proper Shape to reach the Hispanic market?” Portadatm No.2, March/April 2003) works well with US Hispanics – especially the more subscription-shy first generation – who tend to buy their print media at newsstands and supermarkets.

American Media's competitors agree that a strong retail distribution network in the Hispanic market is important. Elizabeth Bradley, publisher of Reader's Digest-Selecciones, recently noted that 70% of Reader's Digest-Selecciones' circulation growth comes from wholesale distribution at large retailers (e.g. WalMart, Target).

Mira!'s revenue structure reflects the significance of paid retail distribution – 80% of Mira!'s revenues are circulation based, while only 20% are derived from advertising. Despite belonging to a relatively low income demographic – average household income is US $39,000 – Mira! readers are very loyal and pick up the tabloid each week for the relatively high retail price of US $1.99. It has been difficult for Mira! to attract advertisers in some national categories because of Mira!'s reputation as the “Spanish National Enquirer.” Generally, Mira!'s content is more conventional and softer than that of the National Enquirer. However, some media buyers argue that Mira!'s version of celebrity gossip could have a negative impact on brand image. Pepsi, who advertises in Thalia, has yet to advertise in Mira!.


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