Show Circuit Steps Into Culture

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Show Circuit is setting a new pace after a makeover of the equestrian lifestyle magazine.


The changes across editorial, advertising and circulation aim to position Show Circuit as the premier title covering the culture, fashion, travel and personalities of the horse world.


"When we took it on [two years ago], it was really more of a Los Angeles publication, and we made it more national and international," said Jami Morse Heidegger, the Chatsworth, CA-based owner and publisher of the controlled-circulation quarterly.


Heidegger was president/CEO of Kiehl's Since 1851 Inc., evolving her family's neighborhood pharmacy into an international hair and skincare brand. She sold the company in 2000 and is at the end of a five-year non-compete agreement.


The interest in Show Circuit, Malibu, CA, dovetails with Heidegger's longstanding commitment to the equine world. Her daughter, Nicoletta, is a rider. The magazine and its changes are geared to families like Heidegger's and those keen on polo, show jumping, racing coverage, dressage and horse owning for fun.


The title previously was much more results-driven when covering horse shows. Articles now reflect fashion, beauty, luxury, travel, horse health and fitness and culture. Write-ups on artists and books as well as profiles of horse-loving celebrities appear regularly.


The fall issue included summer circuit coverage, a tribute to the late actor Christopher Reeve and articles on "Today Show" entertainment reporter Jill Rappaport, the U.S. equestrian team and century-old equestrian tailor Ermilio Clothier.


Jill Brooke is editor-in-chief, and Lisa Thorpe is founder and production manager at the 10-person magazine.


Show Circuit's glossy pages are packed with photos. Fashion shoots and celebrities on the covers -- Glenn Close and her daughter in the summer issue, Kelsey Grammer in the fall and Shannen Doherty in the winter -- pull readers in.


Show Circuit's first freestanding annual directory of equestrian services -- a sort of yellow pages for the industry -- is enclosed with the spring issue.


The title's 8.5-by-10.875-inch trim size is the ideal canvas for big, colorful photography showing horse and human side-by-side.


"Mostly, I really just wanted to have a full representation of this beautiful lifestyle that I became exposed to through my daughter's interest in riding and showing," Heidegger said. "She's 13 now, and she started at 6. I'm looking at it as a labor of love, and this is something I find fascinating. Plus, the interest in horse showing and horse owners is burgeoning."


Illustrating the growing interest in horses was the launch in July of HorsePeople, a controlled-circulation title now sent quarterly to 50,000 affluent Californians. Recipient households have homes worth at least $750,000 and a horse lover living at home. California is said to have 2 million horses, one for every 10 households.


Many other titles exist, some trade, others online and some old hands like Britain's Horse & Hound. But it is a tough arena. A note on Canter Magazine's Web site says it is on a publishing hiatus. It had billed itself as the "first horse magazine dedicated exclusively to the horse's place in the history and culture of our world."


In another change, Show Circuit's circulation was increased 20 percent in 2004 to 25,000 copies per issue. Free distribution is earmarked for major horse shows nationwide, VIP tents at special events, polybag programs with partners and selected hotels. Bookstore chains Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hastings have agreed to sell the magazine. Show Circuit costs $12 on the newsstand. Subscription is $33.95 for a year.


"This is the first time Show Circuit has been available at newsstands in 13 years," said New York-based Warren Christopher, Show Circuit's new creative director and architect of the changes. Christopher most recently was fashion director at Men's Fitness magazine.


Makeovers, however, need plaudits not just from readers, but also advertisers. Show Circuit's endeavors have won favor from luxury, fragrance, beauty and automobile brands. Horse shows and vanity ads previously were the staple of Show Circuit. They remain an important revenue source.


"We're bringing the magazine to the luxury market," Christopher said. "We brought on Rolex and Katena watches, Hermes, Mercedes and the Marc Jacobs fragrance. We're trying to get the magazine in the hands of luxury marketers. One of the challenges is introducing the magazine into the mainstream lifestyle category and having advertisers understand that the readers of this magazine have the financial means to afford this product. We're extending this beyond the endemic category. Rolex and Hermes are fine examples of this because, clearly, they see our reader as their consumer."


Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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