8.2 Million Copies in a Dash! The Strategy Behind the New Food Magazine Launch

November 16, 2010

2010 will probably be best remembered as the year of magazines-distributed-via-newspapers. The year that the little kid came to the aid of its big sibling by adding an infusion of blood and livelihood. In October 2010, the new Athlon Sports, aimed at a male audience, was launched with a 7 million circulation inside America’s newspapers. Last week the new Dash magazine was also launched via newspapers with a female audience in mind and a 8.2 million circulation.

Both are attempting to serve the 100 million daily newspaper readership (yes, you read that right, 100 million folks still read the printed newspaper every day in these United States of America). Athlon Sports is going after the 55 million male readers and Dash magazine is going after the remaining 45 million female readers. Read here what I wrote about the launch of Athlon Sports last month.

Dash is the new magazine from Parade, the granddaddy of all newspaper-magazines with a circulation of 32.5 million every week. Dash bills itself as the “go-to source for putting quick and delicious meals on the table during the week. It has a mix of fun, a bit of inspiration using America’s best-loved food brands and always a back-to-basics sensibility.” The magazine is aimed at women who balance work and home and are between the ages of 25 and 54. The November pre-launch issue is the first of what will become a monthly-frequency-publication starting in February of next year. It is the second newspaper magazine launched by Parade after their two-year-old Parade Healthy Style.

“If you know the reader, you can figure out the edit,” Maggie Murphy, Dash’s editorial director told me. And boy, do they know the reader! They have studied and researched their readers inside out. Women newspaper readers, while not big on buying food magazines, read the food section in the newspaper on a regular basis. They want food content that will help them put the food on the table in a “simple, fast and delicious” manner, as Dash’s tagline says.

Ms. Murphy joined Parade in June as editor of the weekly and editorial director of Parade Publications. Her first assignment was to create the prototype issue of Dash magazine in four weeks. Drawing in on the vast wealth of food content from sister company Condé Nast’s bon appétit, Gourmet and epicurious.com, in addition to Parade magazine itself, Ms. Murphy and her team were able to create a down-to-earth food magazine for that “dashing moment in the life of the busy women who have to put that meal in the oven and get it done in the time the kids are done with their homework.”

“The uniqueness of Dash is evident in three areas,” Tracy Altman, senior vice president of special projects at Parade, told me. “One is the lack of duplication from other food magazines; two is the unique audience that we are reaching; and three, the Condé Nast relationship.” Ms. Altman should know. She was the publisher at the Publishing Group of America’s Relish magazine, another mega-launch newspaper-magazine that was launched five years ago. ” We all had such a great time putting together the strategy for Dash,” Ms. Altman said. And the “We” of course refers to the many folks behind the launch of Dash, including Ms. Murphy and Allison Werder, senior vice president of business development under the leadership of Jack Haire, chief executive officer of Parade.

The Dash strategy includes the monthly magazine distributed on Wednesdays (best food day) mainly in the B and C county newspapers. In addition to the printed edition, Dash introduced dashrecipes.com, a daily digital offering that includes a recipe database in partnership with Epicurious.com. Also, a retail distribution plan is part of that strategy which includes a public placement program that will make the magazine available at local markets and food festivals nationwide.

So the next time you are dashing out of the world of print, take a look at Dash and the rest of the national magazines distributed via newspapers; you will be glad you did. It will reassure you that the printed medium is still very well and alive. The problem is not with the medium, as I have said time and time again; it is with the message. So, for a change, stop dashing out of print and stop and study the Dash strategy to launch a new magazine… there are plenty of lessons to be learned. On that note, you can dash out of this blog and go pick yourself up a copy of Dash, lighting a candle in the print tunnel rather than cursing the dark.


  1. Wonder how this will work with people switching newspaper reading to platforms like the iPad. I know several people, myself included, that have switched to receiving their daily newspaper on their iPad. We don’t get these inserts, which is fine by me. I am sure there are plenty of people who still take a daily newspaper, but I bet in 5 years the majority will be reading on a digital device.

  2. This strategy is so smart. The magazine is piggy-backing off so many resources: the newspaper, Epicurious and Conde Nast. Newspaper readers feel like they’re getting a treat by receiving this magazine, making them happy with the value of the magazine and the newspaper simultaneously. I can’t wait to see a copy of this magazine!

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