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Guide to the Time Inc. Advertising Promotion and Circulation Promotion Files
1922-2004 (bulk, 1923-1989)
 MS 3009-RG 21

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Nora Soto

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 14, 2020
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

The Time Inc. Advertising Promotion and Circulation Promotion Files represent the history of the company's two major revenue models: advertising sales and reader subscriptions. The record group was assembled by the Time Inc. Archives and incorporates material from many of the company's magazine titles. The files originated from a variety of departments across Time Inc., most notably the advertising promotion and circulation promotion departments, but also advertising sales, circulation, consumer marketing, and market research divisions. They were created for Time Inc. sales staff, advertising sales representatives, advertisers, magazine readers and subscribers. While the advertising promotion and circulation promotion departments were separate within the Time Inc. structure, their files were collected together in order to demonstrate the full scope of a magazine's revenue generating activities.

Materials present throughout the record group include correspondence, memoranda, print advertisements, displays, mailings, magazines, books and booklets, reprints, reports, studies, promotional memorabilia, and audio recordings. There are also scrapbooks and binders of files collected by year. Dates range from 1922 Time pre-publication files to 2004 Fortune 500 playing cards, although the bulk of files fall between 1923 and 1989. The files are arranged by magazine title and further organized by subject, generally grouped into Advertisers Lists, Advertising Promotion, and Circulation Promotion.

Time Inc. magazine titles consist of Discover, Fortune, Fortune International, Life, Life International, Money, People, President, Sports Illustrated, Time, Time Canada, Time International, and TV-Cable Week. Life International files also contain Life En Español, a Spanish-language edition for the Latin American market. Time International files encompass Time Asia, Time Atlantic, Time Latin America, and Time Pacific editions, as well as some Time Canada materials. President is a Japanese business magazine that was established in 1963 as a partner magazine to Fortune. Other Time Inc. topics in the collection include book clubs, CompuServe, and HBO/Cinemax.

Advertisers Lists are records of the magazines' advertising sales, organized chronologically by year or issue. In addition to listing all advertisers, they may contain breakdowns of advertising page counts, advertising dollar amounts, and advertising categories. These reports both document the advertising activities of the past and demonstrate trends over time. They were used by Time Inc. to measure growth and decline across years and categories, as well as for comparison against competing magazines. Advertisers Lists files are present for Fortune, Life, Life International, and Time International magazines.

Advertising Promotion files document the company's efforts to attract and retain advertisers and sell advertising space in its magazines. There is a large collection of Time Inc. advertisements, including self-promotional house ads for the company's other publications, trade ads for industry trade journals, general print ads for newspapers and consumer magazines, bound inserts and wrap-around outserts, and posters and displays for retailers of products advertised by Time Inc. It contains proofs and clippings, and sizes range from small space ads to large fold-outs and window displays. Promotional mailings were distributed to advertising sales representatives and potential clients to demonstrate the benefits of advertising with Time Inc. magazines. Examples include advertising reports, calendars, Christmas cards and small gifts (such as paper ornaments or garland), holiday gift advertising and buying guides, media kits, newsletters, promotional booklets, reprints of articles and photographs, special magazine issues, and Time Inc. memorabilia, books and commemorative gifts, as well as general direct mail. Time Inc. conducted extensive market research to analyze their magazines' advertising effectiveness, and findings reports were often used in promotional materials. Market research materials include studies by Time Inc. or external research services (such as Alfred Politz and Elmo Roper), readership surveys, subscriber lists, and samples and directories of prominent subscribers within certain companies, industries or areas, as well as celebrities and politicians. Finally, there are records from company's various advertising promotion departments, including internal staff memoranda discussing marketing strategies, memoranda to sales representatives, manuals, price lists of advertising rates, ad specifications, sales convention souvenir booklets and memorabilia, speeches, and presentation materials. Advertising Promotion files are present for Fortune, Fortune International, Life, Life International, Money, People, President, Sports Illustrated, Time, Time International, and TV-Cable Week magazines, as well as HBO/Cinemax.

Circulation Promotion files focus on increasing Time Inc. magazine circulation and subscriptions. Promotional efforts targeted existing and potential subscribers. These files contain advertisements geared towards consumers, including house ads for Time Inc. publications, subscription card inserts, promotional tip-ons such as coupons, newsstand banners, and retailer displays. The bulk of the collection is mailings to magazine readers and subscribers. Examples include acknowledgements thanking new subscribers, billings, Christmas gift subscriptions, direct mail offers, promotional gifts, renewal notices and reminders, and sweepstakes. Miniature Time Inc. branded pencils were commonly included for recipients' use. Other mailings include discontinued magazine subscription transfers and notices of Life's suspension of publication in 1972. There are also cooperative mailing campaigns with department stores, which promoted magazine subscriptions to customers. Finally, the company's various circulation departments' records include staff memoranda, promotional budget breakdowns and worksheets, renewal price rates, and mailing test results and statistics. Circulation Promotion files are present for Discover, Fortune, Life, Life International, Money, People, Sports Illustrated, Time, Time Canada, Time International, and TV-Cable Week magazines.

Additionally, the record group contains Time Education Department files, a division of the magazine's Circulation Department under Director of Education Mary Tweedy. It features College Bureau, a college subscription sales program based in campus bookstores and sold by student representatives at special student and educator rates. Materials include correspondence, memoranda, information kits, promotional displays, signs and banners, subscription order cards, and awards for high sales. The files also contain educational materials for elementary, high school and college students based on Time articles and editorials. Examples include magazine cover quizzes, current affairs tests, special classroom magazine editions, and teaching aid packets on topics such as nuclear power, electoral politics, and Islam.


The record group is organized alphabetically by magazine title (or similar category) in a single large series based on the Time Inc. Archive's original arrangement. Generally, each magazine title is further organized alphabetically by subject; such groups include Advertisers Lists, Advertising Promotion, Circulation Promotion, and Education Department. Arrangement within these groups varies across magazine titles. Materials may be organized alphabetically, or chronologically by year and alphabetically within each year, with general materials first.