'Maxim' Cuts Rate Base, Gets Redesign

Maxim is slashing its guaranteed circulation by more than half and undergoing yet another redesign, according to Women’s Wear Daily. The moves come as Maxim, like other men’s lifestyle magazines, struggles to find its footing amid the broader transition to digital media consumption.

WWD reports that Maxim will cut its rate base from 2 million to 900,000, making it one of the biggest drops in guaranteed circ by a major magazine in recent memory. Owner Sardar Biglari, who bought the magazine in 2014, tells the fashion industry trade pub that the reduction is part of a broader strategy to reinvent Maxim as a luxury magazine, along with a bigger trim size, higher quality paper stock, and a commitment to 140 pages of editorial content, regardless of ad pages.

As part of the strategy, Maxim is also undergoing another redesign, not long after its last overhaul in 2014, which toned down the magazine’s well-known penchant for scantily clad female models on the cover, and went for a more tasteful treatment of female beauty within.

Although the publication is still experimenting, the new look, set to debut with its December issue, may end up reversing some of those decisions by bringing back female models as a main focus, albeit with a more artsy editorial treatment.

While it’s anyone’s guess how the intended audience will react to the latest makeover, the new approach implemented last year has succeeded in attracting attention from luxury advertisers according to Biglari, who cited new clients, like Calvin Klein, Versace, Hugo Boss and Prada.

The latest cut to the rate base encapsulates the steep decline in the fortunes of magazines targeting young male audiences over the last decade. At its height in the early years of the century, Maxim had a circulation of 2.5 million, while sister title Stuff reached a circ of 1.2 million with shopping content.

In 2007, Dennis Publishing sold Maxim, Stuff and music mag Blender to the Quadrangle Capital Partners in partnership with ex-Wenner Media boss Kent Brownridge, for about $250 million.

Quadrangle closed Stuff immediately, then lost control of Maxim to one of its main creditors, Cerberus Capital Management, in July 2009. Blender closed in 2009, and Maxim’s UK version, which launched the franchise, closed its print edition that same year.

After a deal with Darden Media Group went off the rails in 2013, Biglari, who also owns the Steak’n’Shake restaurant chain, bought Maxim from Alpha Media for $12 million in 2014.

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