Adweek Names Nation's Hottest Magazines in Annual Report

Posted on March 8, 1999

Adweek has announced the magazine Hot List. Topping this list is In Style, the fast-growing celebrity lifestyle book from Time Inc. Fast Company, the business publication for the new economy, wins distinction at the head of a companion list, the top ten magazines with ad page revenue under $30 million. Both lists appear in Adweek's special magazine issue out on Monday (March 8).

Both the lists include a fair number of shelter magazines, including Architectural Digest and Conde Nast House & Garden. Noting how the list is as much a reflection of the culture as it is the trends in publishing, Adweek editor-in-chief Sid Holt attributes the popularity of shelter books to the interests of Baby Boomers. He says the appearance of Bon Appetit, Family Fun and Family Life in the mix are also Boomer lifestyle indicators.

"Shelter's been hot for a while, given the good economy allowing people to buy and remodel homes," he says. "It's natural that Bon Appetit, which is about home entertainment, would also be popular. The Epicurean books are becoming as much about lifestyle as about recipes. And as far as the family books go, there's a bulge of boomers with kids over five; these magazines give readers, beyond learning about parenting, creative ideas for travel, recreation, crafts and cooking with their kids."

The top ten publications are: 1. In Style, 2. Bon Appetit, 3. Architectural Digest, 4. Martha Stewart Living, 5. Family Fun, 6. Vibe, 7. Fortune, 8. Men's Journal, 9. Marie Claire and 10. Fitness. And in the top ten magazines with ad revenues under $30 million: 1. Fast Company (startup of the year for 1996), 2. The Source, 3. Yahoo! Internet Life, 4. Conde Nast House and Garden, 5. This Old House, 6. Sporting News, 7. Family Life, 8. Weight Watchers, 9. Mirabella and 10. P.O.V.

An annual tradition at the magazine since 1980, the ranking is made by examining each magazine's advertising and circulation performance, its individual showing within its category, interviews with media buyers and consultants, and Adweek's editorial judgment.

Holt says the list this year isn't just a reflection of Boomers approaching middle age. The placing of Vibe and The Source, he says, is evidence of hip-hop culture's growing acceptance and respect in the mainstream (as if the number of Grammy Awards Lauryn Hill won recently weren't enough of a clue). And to all those magazine watchers reporting the "Maxim-ization" of men's magazines since Maxim editor Mark Golin was tapped for the top slot of Details, Holt points out the vast difference between Maxim and the two men's titles on the Hot List -- P.O.V. and Men's Journal. The category, he says, is hardly homogenized.

However, the impressive performance of Maxim has inspired Adweek to name Golin editor of the year. A profile of him turns up some unexpected details about the wise-cracking mastermind behind the preeminent "guy" magazine known for its photos of scantily-clad female celebrities and collegiate humor. Among his many interests are medieval history, quantum physics, and the violin, which he played in an alternative rock band called Zen for Primates.

Ann Moore of The People Group at Time wins Executive of the Year. Moore oversaw the launch in 1994 of In Style, this year's Hottest Magazine of the Year. In 1998, she was the mastermind behind the incredible success of new spinoffs Teen People and People en Espanol (a Spanish-language version of People) while handling the reins of a billion-dollar enterprise that shows no sign of letting up.

Startup of the Year goes to ESPN magazine. "It quickly captured an elusive demographic -- young males," Holt says of the magazine. "It also shook up a stodgy category: Sports Illustrated, the category leader, underwent a partial redesign, and others remade themselves. Another title folded. In a crowded category, with loyal fans, ESPN has broken through and brought new life to the sports titles."