Post’s New Gossip Glossy Struggles for Traction

When the New York Post launched Page Six Magazine in September, the goal was to pump new life and circulation into the Post’s historically anemic Sunday edition, as well as to generate additional profits for the paper.

More than eight weeks later, a portrait of the Sunday supplement’s prospects is beginning to emerge—and it’s decidedly mixed.

“We’re pleased with the advertising and we’re pleased with the circulation enhancement,” said Paul Carlucci, the publisher of the Post, declining to provide details on circulation growth. “We think it’s going to continue to grow.”

But several business people at the Post who are working on Page Six Magazine said high-paying ads haven’t been pouring in.

“It’s been up and down,” said one Post advertising staffer.

“[The advertising] hasn’t been juicy, per se,” said a source on the magazine’s business side.

And another magazine business source added: “It’s difficult timing. We launched in September, which was good for us, but not good for advertisers.”

The sources wouldn’t elaborate on those assessments, but one industry veteran was less coy. “It’s obviously struggling right now,” said Josh Quittner, the executive editor of Fortune, who has had stints on both the business and editorial sides of various magazines. “Obviously, there should be a lot of advertising in a healthy magazine.”

A cursory thumb through the magazine, led by former Harper’s Bazaar editor Margi Conklin, suggests that it’s still trying to catch on. The Nov. 11 issue contained 28 consecutive editorial pages in a total of 60 pages; the previous week’s issue had 24 straight pages without an ad. And may of the advertisers aren’t exactly luxury brands. Mercedes still has a spot on the back wrap, but there are also full-page ads placed by the tourist bureau of Bucks County, Pa., and by Directbuy.com.

Still, despite the success of T, The New York Times’ competing glossy—and the anticipation surrounding Pursuits, The Wall Street Journal’s entry into the category, slated for next year—it may be unrealistic to expect any Sunday supplement to be an immediate hit.

“To come in with lots of ad pages in a few weeks is a little optimistic,” Jason Klein, president of the Newspaper National Network, a company that sells ads for newspapers, cautioned. “It’s not going to be turned around in a few weeks. It takes a year or two.”

“We’re certainly meeting expectations,” Mr. Carlucci insisted. “We were very anxious to pursue New York Times [Magazine] advertisers, and we’ve captured several of them, and several more will be introduced over the next two months. It looks very strong in ’08.”

He would not say who those advertisers were, but said they had binding agreements to Page Six Magazine and that they were “well-known New York retailers.”

This is Page Six’s second run, after an effort launched in 2006 produced three issues*.

And how dedicated is the Post this time around?

“We’re totally committed to the magazine,” said Mr. Carlucci. “It’s here to stay.”

*This sentence has been edited from an earlier version.