Hoping to seize a larger share of these readers, Genre Magazine is switching publishers, coasts and editorial focus. The 12-year-old title has a long way to go before challenging Out for market supremacy - its rate base for the immediate future will be held at 40,000 - but newly appointed president and publisher Scott Brunelle believes gay men will embrace a magazine that speaks to them in a smart, informed manner.
"What we're trying to do is establish a new standard in lifestyle magazines for gay men," he says. "Our mission is to appeal to the audience in a way that hasn't been done before - careers, relationships, health, finances. There's no question that the market is there."
Avalon Equity Partners, a private fund focusing on media companies, obviously agrees with Brunelle's assessment: the firm funds Genre Media LLC, the company that recently purchased Genre from its long-time publisher Richard Settles (who, according to a company press release announcing Brunelle's appointment, will be "retained to assist with the transition for an extended period"). Avalon also owns a majority stake in Windows Media, which counts many of the country's largest gay newspapers among its holdings. "We don't think they're the only VC fund that sees the strength in this market," Brunelle says. "But they're the first to make this kind of investment."
As opposed to Out, Genre will primarily target gay men, a distinction which Brunelle believes will be warmly received by both readers and advertisers. "Most products are made for either men or women," he notes. "In terms of what we're doing, we really don't have any competition, to put it frankly."
According to research conducted by the mag, Genre's average reader is 39 years old and well educated, with annual household income of $98,000. "They're obviously very affluent and mostly don't have children to spend their money on," Brunelle says. For that reason, he is targeting upscale advertisers in a broad range of categories: "I can't think of a single category that shouldn't be in this magazine, to be perfectly honest."
However, automotive advertisers have largely shunned Brunelle's initial inquiries. "I think it's because the magazine's reach isn't large enough," he guesses. "[Automotive manufacturers] won't look at you unless you have a certain rate base." Nonetheless, Brunelle seemingly feels little pressure to kowtow to advertisers: "We're not taking cigarette ads, which is a policy I just put in place. It doesn't go along with a healthy lifestyle."
Next up for Genre: further editorial refinement (the first changes will be seen in the August issue of the mag, Brunelle says) and the continued gradual shift of the mag's home base from San Francisco to New York City. The magazine has also hired Platinum veteran Michele Chicoine as its director of advertising; the four-strong ad staff will likely grow to nine within the next few months.