Advertisers buying into GQ's PR lounge

LOS ANGELES: With an economy plagued by feeble ad sales and ailing consumer spending, GQ magazine has turned to a PR option - a branded nightclub - to retain advertisers and reach key high-end demographics.

LOS ANGELES: With an economy plagued by feeble ad sales and ailing consumer spending, GQ magazine has turned to a PR option - a branded nightclub - to retain advertisers and reach key high-end demographics.

"Here at GQ, we're always trying to come up with ideas that cobrand the GQ brand with our advertisers' products,

explained executive director of marketing and promotion Daria Fabian. "We're not throwing parties just to throw parties."

The upscale men's magazine recently converted the hip Sunset Room in Los Angeles into "The GQ Lounge,

featuring art installations from 21 of its top advertisers, to hype the March movie issue and introduce partner brands to a celebrity clientele.

In order to participate, each advertiser was required to buy at least as many ad pages in 2002 as it did in 2001. Despite that high price tag, companies such as Bombay Sapphire and Corum watches were quick to join the four-week promotion.

GQ hired PR firm Harrison & Shriftman to draw celebrity and socialite events to the club, including hotel heiress Paris Hilton's 21st birthday, and the premiere of HBO's The Laramie Project.

"Were getting a lot of repeat visitors,

claimed Fabian. "P. Diddy has been to the lounge at least five or six times."

Part of the draw, said Fabian, is the low-key approach to marketing.

Sapphire, for instance, displays its product in the form of a chandelier over the bar made from 200 of its blue bottles. Outside, drinkers can lounge in cabanas decorated by Calvin Klein.

The lounge has gained more than 50 media hits, from The New York Times and USA Today to Daily Variety. Fabian added that at least 50% of the time, press has also mentioned partner advertisers.

The promotion has been so successful, GQ plans on replicating the idea in New York during the fall Fashion Week, but no location has been finalized.

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