A new General Growth Properties mall promotes its grand opening with its own magazine. Another center developer promotes the image projected by all of its malls with a national magazine.

Malls and mall developers are exploring the use of glossy, well produced magazines as promotional vehicles.

Toward the end of last July, residents in and around the north Texas city of Frisco, near Dallas, received a glossy 44 page magazine promoting the grand opening of Stonebriar Centre, a 1.6 million-square-foot mall owned by Chicago-based General Growth Properties, Inc.

The new mall's marketing team sent the magazine to 50,000 households with incomes of $75,000 and up.

More than a catalog or tabloid insert, the 81/2-inch by 11-inch newsstand-size magazine provides articles designed to introduce the mall to prospective customers and to suggest ideas for using the merchandise carried by retailers located in the mall.

The magazine's pages include articles about the schedule for the grand opening celebration, trends in home furnishing in the year 2000, fashion trends and the region's effort to attract the 2012 Olympic games.

Equally important, the magazine serves as an advertising vehicle for retailers working to introduce themselves and their new location to customers in the region. The advertising fees covered the cost of producing the magazine. "There was no extra cost for the mall," says Barb Nicklas, vice president, marketing, with General Growth.

For the magazine concept to work, the retailers had to like the publication. "If they don't like it, they won't buy ads," Nicklas says.

Judging from the publication's 21 pages of mostly full-page advertising, the retailers did like the concept.

General Growth commissioned Nuwater Publishing, Inc., of Cranbury, N.J., to produce the magazine. "I think these kinds of magazines provide a marketing vehicle that centers can use to reach their customers," says Bill Quinn, president of Nuwater. "A glossy publication like this stands out in the mailbox and creates instant awareness. The right look and the right editorial can communicate the kind of information that will bring people out to the mall."

Will the magazine publish year round? "We believe these kinds of publications serve mall marketing needs on special occasions," Quinn continues. "They can help promote a grand opening and perhaps the holiday season with gift guide editorial. But frankly, I'm not sure that merchants will support a magazine designed around other selling seasons.

Simon Says Image In March of 1999, Simon Brand Ventures, a part of Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, Inc., rolled out the first edition of "S," a magazine with an entirely different marketing goal behind it.

"S" is a monthly glossy magazine designed to promote Simon as a mall brand, along with the benefits of Simon-brand malls to customers.

Simon calculates that 100 million shoppers visit the company's malls 2.3 billion times per year. Nearly 2.2 million of these folks are expected to pick up a copy of "S" every month at distribution points in the malls.

To produce the magazine, Simon joined with Time Inc.'s Custom Publishing division, which will provide a managing editor, an editorial staff, and a design and production team to handle the day-to-day operations involved in producing a monthly magazine.

The editorial plan for the publication aims to balance national and local lifestyle coverage with information about events and special promotions at specific malls. Articles are also drawn from Time Inc.'s magazine portfolio, which includes Sports Illustrated, Time, In Style and others.

Simon declines to discuss the cost of the magazine, but does say that the concept does not include selling ads to merchants.

"By connecting with readers in the mall, Simon is opening a whole new arena of marketing and communications capabilities," says Shari Simon, vice president of corporate marketing for Simon Property Group. "This arena includes print advertising, signage and on-mall promotional events for Simon's brand marketing partners, such as VISA U.S.A., Pepsi Cola Company, and ford Motor Company."

Malls have experimented with magazine concepts designed to promote properties for many years now. These two concepts, by General Growth and Simon, represent the latest evolutions of the experiment.