Magazine Spotlight: Complex

by , Jun 25, 2004, 12:00 AM
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Jimmy Jellinek believes that the two-and-a-half-year-old Complex Magazine is riding a wave of change in the magazine world, where product-centric editorial is more the norm.

"This is where publishing is going, toward more consumerism," he said. "People are making statements about their inner selves with the products they buy. It's really beyond race, beyond class. It is consumerism as a lifestyle."

A lifestyle that the gadget- and shopping-geared title is poised to capitalize on, particularly with an upcoming newsstand-only style-guide. "We see ourselves moving to a new consumer sector," he said. "We give readers a way to navigate this world."

Complex might be described as a combination of Maxim, the newly launched Cargo, and the Source. Its target audience and its editorial slant are entirely colored by hip-hop culture, which Jellinek calls a "new-school urbanism" that is race-agnostic.

Jellinek, formerly a staffer at FHM, joined the magazine as editor in chief in late May. While inheriting a successful product, he has started an effort to widen the 315,000-circ title's audience, as he acknowledges that Complex is sometimes too hip for its own good.

"We reach the very, very cool tastemakers," he said. "My mission is to make it more accessible. We need to increase our newsstand sales."

To capture newsstand shoppers, Complex forgoes a back-cover advertisement, instead going with two "front" covers (the magazine is essentially split in half). The first cover is related to the book's lifestyle half, and the back, or the other front, is on shopping (you have to turn the magazine upside down to read the other side.)

The current cover of the June/July issue includes a "Hip Hop Dream Team," including rappers Kanye West, the Beastie Boys, and Talib Kweli--all in golfing attire.

The second cover features a shot of sportscaster Leeanne Tweeden in a leather jacket and a bikini bottom, while also calling out 395+ products to buy, which make up "The Guide" section of the book. Departments include: "Video Games," "Home theater," "Drinks and Shades," and "Sneakers," among others.

As for advertising, that side of the business has gone "phenomenally well," according to Jellinek. Current advertisers include Southpole, Foot Locker, and Echo Unlimited.

The content of Complex is definitely irreverent--the current issue gives tips on "Genital Grooming" as well as plenty of sex talk, but it also includes personal profiles of athletes, entertainers, and lots of hip-hop stars.

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