Bauer Launches ‘Closer’ with Valerie Harper

By Steve Cohn

On Oct. 30, the German-owned Bauer Publishing, best known for the gossipy InTouch and Life & Style Weekly in the U.S., took a far different approach with its premiere of the celebrity weekly Closer. Not only does the targeted 40-year-old-plus female demographic go against the perceived 18-to-34-year-old "grain," but so, too, does the largely positive content.

Launch cover Valerie Harper is the perfect example as the article shares the 74-year-old Rhoda star’s joy that the terminal form of brain cancer diagnosed in March remains in remission far longer than her medical team expected.  "This is exactly what our focus groups wanted to read," says Bauer president of U.S. advertising sales (since 2004) Ian Scott, "and we delivered."

Harper’s joy will be shared by an anticipated huge readership, as the Nov. 14-dated premiere’s 25-cent cover price means a Scott-projected 2 million newsstand sales. That is the strategy that Bauer employed with the 1989 launch of First for Women that generated 4 million sales, and readers have since embraced FfW‘s every-three-weeks frequency with a current average of 1 million sales at a $2.49 cover price.

The challenge for Bauer is greater with Closer‘s Nov. 21-dated issue #2 kicking in the regular $3.99 cover price. Scott is optimistic that the support will continue in part because of the older readership’s relative affluence.

Editor-in-chief Annabel Vered has a largely gossipy background as a contributor to IT, L&SW, Star and, but there is little evidence of that in Closer.