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Bon Appétit's New Ads Have Glitz, But No Food

Magazine launches latest unusual campaign
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Bon Appétit has been trying a lot of offbeat stunts as it reintroduces itself into a crowded food media category. There was an irreverent ad campaign in January with the tagline “Bite me,” the addition of celebrity and lifestyle content by new editor Adam Rapoport, and Fashion Week dinners that mixed chefs with designers and socialites.

With its latest campaign, Bon App wants to be thought of as not just a food but a lifestyle magazine. A series of ads shows glamourous and waif-like models socializing, partying, and jet-setting. One thing they’re not doing is cooking or eating, though. In fact, apart from the tagline, “Bon Appétit: Where food and culture meet,” the ads don’t suggest food at all.

“What we want the consumer and trade to see is, it’s not just about the food. It’s food through the lens of family, travel; it really is about the lifestyle,” said Bon App publisher Pamela Drucker Mann, who came to the brand in January from Condé sibling Glamour to raise the magazine’s profile and grow its non-food advertising.

Mann said she wasn’t concerned that the absence of food in the ads would confuse people, since Bon Appétit is still grounded in recipes.

“People can look really good and be really good cooks at the same time,” she said. “There is something really exciting and sexy about the food culture. We’re trying to draw attention to that.”

The ads were created in-house and will break Nov. 7 in trade magazines, including Adweek. They’ll also run in the February issues of various Condé Nast magazines.

The changes at Bon Appétit follow the closure of Condé Nast's high-end Gourmet and come at a time when food magazines, particularly those with celebrity chef tie-ins, have taken off.

Bon Appétit sold 429 ad pages in the first nine months of the year, down 0.7 percent from the year-ago period, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Food & Wine was off 2.8 percent to 697 on the same basis. Food Network Magazine, still in growth mode, increased its pages 11.6 percent to 564.