Mag Rack: Razor's Edge

Sharp Copy

Back in June, when Mag Rack talked to Maxim Publisher Rob Gregory, while expressing confidence in eventually dominating the men's category, he said the biggest threat to his business might come from smaller men's titles that could offer a page for a fraction of what Maxim charges.

That threat may be coming to fruition. As the industry debates the struggles of the larger men's titles, smaller titles like Razor and the recently launched Giant nip at their heels.

"Media buyers are realizing that they can take a huge chunk of their budget for one page, one month, and get a diluted audience--or they can get into six other books that deliver that guy they are trying to reach," said Razor Publisher and Editor in Chief Richard Botto.

This year, Razor has been persuasive to such buyers, adding new advertisers such as Ford, State Farm, and BMW, while boasting 130 percent year-over-year advertising growth.

Botto believes titles like Razor, which he says can deliver a much more dedicated and concentrated audience, are what the magazine business excels at.



Meanwhile, the high-reach driven "laddies" are top-heavy. "[They are] priced out of the market," Botto said. "The numbers don't lie. They are losing newsstand."

Maxim is down 16 percent in newsstand sales through June, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (sister publication Stuff is down close to 20 percent). Maxim is also down 11 percent in ad pages through September.

The formula of hot cover babes and frat jokes may be wearing thin, says Botto.

"Things are cyclical," he said. "The repetition of it maybe has worn thin. There may be less desire for people to buy these magazines when you can interchange any month."

Meanwhile, Razor appears to be coming into its own as it celebrates its four-year anniversary. Its mix of service, investigative pieces (like this month's story on the transition in the White House from President Clinton to President Bush)--and yes, some pretty girls--is resonating.

"We've been staying the course from day one," said Botto. "We've always noticed there is a major gap between the laddie books and Esquire and GQ."

Botto said that one of his magazine's secrets is that men actually want to read.

"I think there is a huge misconception [about this generation]," he said. "I won't deny that the MTV mentality hasn't spread. I think society overcompensates for that."

Deep Thoughts

Interested in reading thoughtful essays on the new difficulties in choosing to be a stay-at-home mom (such as "White Collar Quandary, Blue Collar Purgatory")? How about features on the neo-conservative political movement, or Jews and the Republican Party, or profiles on author Irshad Manji, ("The Trouble with Islam") or poems on the Persian Empire?

Citizen Culture might be just what you are looking for. Dubbed by its editors as the "Magazine for the Young Intellectual," the recently launched title is meant to serve as a "magazine journalism career launch pad for talented writers, photographers, critics and reviewers, poets and storytellers, as well as production-minded people who have professional skill, but just need a foot in the industry's door."

Editor in Chief Jonathon Feit said he came up with the idea for the magazine when he realized how difficult it was for very talented writers to break into the magazine business after being rejected so many times himself.

The result has been Citizen Culture, which targets educated, socially involved men and women ages 20-40, while providing a forum for these emerging writers, as well as behind-the-scenes talent.

"We've been called the New Yorker for young people," he said. "That's very complimentary, and it's also exactly what we want to be."

Feit believes the timing is perfect for the new title, as many men's magazines like Playboy and GQ move away from running longer, intricate pieces in pursuit of the Maxim-crowd. Plus, "women don't have any magazines that offer this."

That's important to Feit, who is aiming at a dual readership. So far, circulation is small (around 15,000), but "the market has expanded exponentially," said Feit as word of mouth among writers spreads.

In the first two issues, footwear brands Sketchers and 310 Motoring have placed ads, with more to come.

President Woods?

Travel and Leisure Golf features a cover shot of a glowing, smiling Tiger Woods along with a cover line "Swing Vote Special. President Woods. It could happen."

The magazine talks to political analysts in a serious discussion of how an athlete of Woods' popularity could make a run for office. According to the Gallup Organization, no one in the last ten years has had a higher favorability rating than Tiger.

Slow Start

The debut issue of Life & Style, by our count, carries just three ads (NBC, Oreo, and Kmart).

Rodale Promotion

Rodale Inc. announced that Jason Brown, Editor of Men's Health South Africa, has been named managing editor of Men's Health International. In his new role, Brown will oversee editorial content for all 31 international editions of Men's Health, reaching 39 countries.

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