AmEx Debuts Magazine for Doctors at Leisure

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American Express Custom Publishing, New York, has launched a new bimonthly magazine for physicians that seeks to combine a business-to-business distribution model with consumer-oriented editorial for a highly specialized readership.

Lifestyle and Travel for Physicians is a custom publishing vehicle designed to serve three purposes: deliver lifestyle features and travel guides for physicians at leisure; provide pharmaceutical companies with an editorial product to reach their physician customers and prospects; and give high-end, nonmedical advertisers an opportunity to reach an affluent audience.

"We saw that there was a real need for pharmaceutical companies to market to physicians in a different way than they usually do -- in medical journals and direct mailings," said Bernadette Mahlmann, general manager, American Express Custom Publishing. "They wanted to appeal to these physicians more as affluent consumers than [as] doctors in an office."

Mahlmann spent the last year developing the concept of a physician-oriented lifestyle magazine. The custom publishing group reworked a version of one of its consumer titles, Departures, replacing its general ads with ads targeting doctors. She said the experiment was well received, and the 10-year-old division subsequently decided to create a new magazine for the market.

Though Lifestyle and Travel for Physicians' glossy pages and highbrow editorial content may look like the traditional upscale consumer book, it is custom-published exclusively for business advertisers that are targeting specific medical fields such as cardiology, geriatrics and dermatology. In this model, pharmaceutical firms sponsor issues for the medical specialty they want to reach. The sponsorships last for one year -- six issues -- and entitle the company to 10 ad pages per issue. The sponsors are responsible for providing the list of doctors they want to reach.

The June/July debut issue was sponsored by Ortho-McNeil, a Johnson & Johnson division, and was delivered to 40,000 physicians whose names were obtained from the Johnson & Johnson database. That issue had two press runs -- one of 35,000 copies for neurologists and internists, and a second run of 5,000 copies for urologists. Each version featured ads for Ortho-McNeil products in the respective specialty fields.

The 66-page issue also included five ad pages from nonmedical companies such as British Airways and Corvette.

Doctors who receive the magazine have the choice of home or office delivery.

The custom publishing division expects to add additional pharmaceutical sponsors and plans to increase circulation to between 100,000 and 125,000 by year's end.

While the sponsors own the lists, Mahlmann said her group would look to develop additional marketing opportunities.

"If we have other interesting programs that we want to pursue, we would certainly work with the sponsors on doing that," she said. "If it's for the benefit of the physicians, I'm sure they would be amenable to sharing the names."

Lifestyle and Travel for Physicians features 40 percent original editorial and 60 percent recycled content from American Express' other custom publishing magazines.

The new magazine is not alone in serving this niche market. Hearst Publications, New York, produces a monthly controlled-circulation magazine called Diversions that also focuses on culture and travel for doctors.

Diversions is delivered to office- and hospital-based physicians and is limited to certain specialties, including primary care, obstetricians/gynecologists, urologists, pediatricians, allergists, cardiologists and gastroenterologists.

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