Sports Illustrated looks north

New York's Sports Illustrated is coming to town for a lot longer than a World Series look-see.Paul Belanger, a Toronto-based sales representative who has worked on the Sports Illustrated account for 12 years, says the first of the six Canadian monthly...

New York’s Sports Illustrated is coming to town for a lot longer than a World Series look-see.

Paul Belanger, a Toronto-based sales representative who has worked on the Sports Illustrated account for 12 years, says the first of the six Canadian monthly issues the magazine plans will be in March to coincide with the opening of the baseball season.

All six issues will have entirely Canadian advertising.

Two of them, featuring hockey and baseball, will have editorial content skewed to Canadian teams.

Belanger says the second issue will be in May for the National Hockey League playoffs, the third in August for the U.S. Open Tennis Championship, the fourth in September for the start of hockey season, the fifth in October for baseball’s World Series and the sixth in December for Sportsman of the Year.

Roger Jackson, publicity director of Sports Illustrated, says discussions for the Canadian issues are in the preliminary stage only and nothing has been confirmed.

A Toronto media director says the magazine’s plans must be well advanced if it hopes to sell ad space for a March issue.

Freda Colbourne, a spokeswoman for Molson Breweries, says her company recently received a media information package from Sports Illustrated.

Colbourne says Molson has sent the package to FCB/Ronalds-Reynolds, its print agency, and to its brand agencies for evaluation.

Catherine Keachie, executive director of the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association in Toronto, doubts Sports Illustrated will have any success in Canada.

Legislation

Keachie says Sports Illustrated cannot be aware of legislation which prevents the kind of venture it is planning.

As with other cultural industries – and despite free trade between Canada and the u.s. – there are Canadian content rules for magazine publishing in this country which may disallow advertisers writing off their ad costs if the publication does not meet certain requirements.

Tariff Item 9958 also gives Canada Customs the authority to stop a magazine at the border if it is in contravention of Canadian legislation.

Serge Rancourt is a senior vice-president at Young & Rubicam in Toronto and works closely on its Ford of Canada account.

Rancourt says he would ‘absolutely’ look at Sports Illustrated’s plans for Canada because of the publication’s subject and circulation.

‘Surprised’

Doug Checkeris, group vice-president at Media Buying Services in Toronto, says he is surprised Sports Illustrated is coming to Canada, although he adds it has been talked about for years.

Checkeris suspects since Sports Illustrated sells u.s. advertising on a total circulation rate base, u.s. advertisers may want compensation because of the Canadian ads to be carried.

Still, Checkeris says, ‘As an advertiser it’s great [news.]‘

Jackson says Sports Illustrated is published weekly in the u.s. Its circulation is more than three million, with a 96% subscription rate.

He says the magazine has 25 million adult readers an issue, 77% of them men.

The median age of a Sports Illustrated reader is 34.6 years, with a median household income of US$40,039.

Jackson says about half of its readers have a college education, 25% above the u.s. average.

Belanger says Sports Illustrated’s circulation in Canada is 145,000 an issue, although Colbourne says her information suggests that number is 120,000.

Sports Illustrated, which began in 1954, is owned by Time Inc. Magazines, part of the u.s.-owned Time-Warner conglomerate.

It appears advertising space in Sports Illustrated is being sold alone, not packaged with Time Canada magazine ads.

Strategy could not confirm if this is the case at press-time.

Belanger says the cost of a four-color, full-page ad in the Canadian Sports Illustrated will cost $50 per thousand circulation. (At 145,000 copies an issue, that is $7,250.)

A second media director who has seen some early numbers mentions a figure of $6,700 for a four-color, full-page ad.

Sports Illustrated finishes a two-year publishing experiment in Australia and New Zealand in December.

Down Under, the magazine was introduced as an insert in Time’s Australian edition.

A test of a weekly European Sports Illustrated took place from July to September this year to take advantage of the Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona.