Periodicals/ Publications

HERE'S a question for Robert Stack and ''Unsolved Mysteries'': Why did so many advertising trade publications start in years ending in 8?

Campaign in Britain marked its 30th anniversary in mid-September, followed by the 90th anniversary of Marketing Magazine in Canada. And this week in this country, Adweek is commemorating its 20th with a record 232-page special issue.

The issue, which accompanies the regular weekly issue of Adweek sent to subscribers yesterday, is meant to look ahead more than back, assessing the effects of megatrends like consolidation of accounts, fragmentation of media, globalization of consumer products and integration of marketing services.

''We wanted to give the reader something of value instead of something that was a shameless collection of dollars from the marketplace,'' said Mark A. Dacey, president of Adweek Magazines in New York. That company, part of the BPI Communications Inc. division of VNU N.V., publishes Adweek along with sibling trade titles that include Brandweek and Mediaweek.

Among the features in the anniversary issue are an interview with the usually reclusive Mary Wells, co-founder of Wells Rich Greene; 28 pages of photographs reuniting leading agency figures from the last two decades (and yes, some refused to pose with their former partners), and a selection, sure to generate debate, of the 20 best campaigns of the last 20 years.

Since it was founded in 1978, Adweek has dueled with its older, larger competitor, Advertising Age, in a rivalry that in Madison Avenue terms could be described as a puckish Pepsi-Cola against a stolid Coca-Cola or an upstart Newsweek against an established Time. In the 1980's, Adweek was castigated by top agency officers who complained that it lacked credibility and was fixated on gossip. That reputation is alluded to playfully in some advertisements in the issue.

For instance, an ad bought by the J. Walter Thompson Company unit of WPP Group P.L.C. declares: ''Thanks, Adweek, for 20 years of stories about comings and goings, wins and losses, celebrations and scandals. And thanks for all the stories about other agencies too.''

And an ad from Seiter & Miller Advertising in New York says: ''For years, we've been trying to get a big splashy spread in Adweek. Now we know. Just pay for it.'' (Actually, the ad is a single page, not a spread.)

''There are a couple of jabs,'' said Alison Fahey, editor of Adweek, ''but we felt it was only fair.''

As for Adweek's once-scarlet reputation, she added, laughing, ''We still print hot rumors, only now they're true.''

Adweek was created by three consumer magazine executives -- John C. Thomas Jr., Kenneth Fadner and W. Pendleton Tudor -- who bought and merged three regional trade publications known as ANNY, for Advertising News of New York; SAM, for Serving Advertising in the Midwest, and MAC on the West Coast, for Media Agencies Clients. Editions for New England, the South and the Southwest were added later.

The executives' experience at magazines like Esquire, Life, New York and Time influenced the decision to have Adweek behave more like a consumer publication than a traditional trade paper. That was reinforced by a splashy design by Walter Berhard, who, Mr. Thomas recalled, suggested the name and produced the ''wonderful red'' cover logo in a type face, Ankzeiden Grotesque, that ''just jumps out at you.''

Ms. Fahey and Sid Holt, editor in chief of Adweek, demurred when asked to identify the industry leaders who would not pose for photographs with their former colleagues.

The only ''group to say no,'' according to Ms. Fahey, was ''the brothers.'' That was of course a reference to Maurice and Charles Saatchi of Saatchi & Saatchi and M&C Saatchi, who ''just kind of said 'Happy anniversary' and very politely declined,'' she said.

Adweek editors chose the 20 campaigns, Mr. Holt said, based on attributes like creativity, effectiveness and longevity. The best showing was made by the TBWA/Chiat/Day unit of the Omnicom Group and its predecessor agencies, which landed four campaigns on the list, for Absolut vodka, Apple Computer, Energizer batteries and the Nynex Yellow Pages.

Tied in second place, with two campaigns apiece, were the Publicis & Hal Riney unit of Publicis S.A., for Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers and Saturn automobiles, and Wieden & Kennedy, for ESPN ''Sports Center'' and Nike Inc.

Now that Adweek has celebrated its 20th anniversary, does Advertising Age intend to publish a 70th anniversary issue in 2000?

''None planned,'' replied Scott Donaton, the New York-based editor of Advertising Age, owned by Crain Communications Inc. There are plans for two special issues next year, he added, one retrospective titled ''The Advertising Century'' and the other a forward-looking millennium issue.

Perhaps that issue will assess whether the future will bring what the Wolf Group is predicting in an ad in the special Adweek. The ad presents the front cover of Adweek from Nov. 24, 2018, reporting Wolf winning accounts from General Motors, Microsoft and Pepsi-Cola, including brands like ''Pepsi Lite, Pepsi Phat, Pepsi Day and Pepsi Night.''

Correction: November 11, 1998, Wednesday The Advertising column yesterday, about a special 20th-anniversary issue of Adweek, misspelled the surname of the magazine's designer. He is Walter Bernard, not Berhard. The column also used an erroneous name supplied by the magazine for the typeface of its nameplate. The face is Anzeigen Grotesk Bold, not Ankzeiden Grotesque.