The problem is, many women's magazines exist in a far-off galaxy where the goal of existence is twofold: achieve the perfect blonde highlights and wear size 4. And never, ever, age. These pubs, which apparently target zygotes, are obsessed with weight, men and sex. Their reality, like Congress', is skewed.
So it was refreshing to discover Hallmark's emphasis on every-day life. And it doesn't get any realer than a Kansas City reader whose beauty secret is "a bra that makes 40-year-old boobs ride higher than half-mast." Of course, the catch is how you frame reality. Since it's Hallmark, the focus is emotional. In a crowded category, one needs something to stand out. (Body By Victoria Shaping bras aside.) Enter the five focal points that double as the magazine's section headers: Inspire, Renew, Nest, Connect, Nourish.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that I prefer Cynical, Sardonic, Witty, Jaded and Snarky in my table of contents, but I'm in the minority. If I had twins, I'd name them Sarcasm and Irony. But that's me; I'd want them to feel special. For you, gentle reader, as Charlotte Bronte so neatly put it, Hallmark, according to its associate publisher Carol Campbell-Boggs, is aimed at a 43-year-old woman with a median income of about $80,000. Eureka! A baby-boomer magazine that dares to a) speak to women who are older than 25 and b) features a pretty model on the cover with wrinkles around her eyes. I was so pleased, I treated myself to top-shelf vodka as I perused the debut September/October issue.
Let's start with Nest, which suggests ways to bring that autumnal look into your home. Step 1: Go outside, gather acorns, gourds and branches, then dump them in a bowl. This is the kind of stage direction I love: simple and direct. "And don't be afraid to get creative," reads the copy. "Nature doesn't strive for perfection, and neither should you." Nature, let me just add, produced the Grand Canyon, the Tetons and the Great Lakes. Man came up with bellbottoms, Slim Jims and the pet rock.
But hands down, my personal favorite was Nourish, which offers this novel solution to stress: a slice of banana cream pie. Sure it's true-blue comfort food, but it's so much more! It contains milk, which has an amino acid used to produce serotonin; it has Vitamin B6, thanks to the banana, which produces brain chemicals that improve the immune system; and it has magnesium, in the grains and almonds, that relieves muscle tension. I bet many have turned to pies in times of crisis. Now they can stop feeling guilty. Three cheers for a pastry-rich therapy program. It relieves stress--and tastes good, too.
And per Hallmark 's press, some 400,000 consumers will enjoy this sage advice. That's the rate base at launch; paid circ numbers are expected to grow to 550,000 with the January/February issue. To reach these consumers, Hallmark will leverage the retail distribution power of its 4,200 Gold Crown stores, as well as the 44,000 additional retail outlets--drugstores, supermarkets and other retailers nationwide--that carry its products. That's reach--and to its debut advertisers, Estee Lauder, Unilever, Kraft and Nestle, a reality that goes ka-ching in the coffers.
You get the picture: Hallmark has the requisite food, family, home, beauty entries, but the take is practical rather than precious. Though I did pause at Inspire. Learning how to tie a scarf like a Frenchwoman is not what I'd call inspirational. However, given the French stance on the Mideast, its participation in the U.N. food-for-oil scandal and its Vichy collaboration, I wouldn't mind learning to tie a scarf around some odious French politician's neck. That's what we call aspirational.