Rodale pulled the life support for this once hot title. Two days in a row, a large publisher killed a hit magazine offshoot. Yesterday, Travel + Leisure Golf ran its course <cough> and today, the spin-off of Men's Health.
Business must have fallen off the cliff quickly because the staff memo says "In 2008, advertising revenues and pages for the magazine increased 22.8% and 6.6%, respectively." Best Life was on Adweek's Hot List for 2007 and 2008.
When the man sitting next to you at the dinner party wipes his mouth on his sleeve, you can blame the Reaper for putting a halt to Best Life.
As fully expected, sometime last night, the Reaper came down to take #2 men's title Stuff magazine, right after new owners Quadrangle Group closed their deal. Both the Reaper and Quadrangle don't waste time. And who should be on the cover but "the world's sexiest boss" Ivanka Trump.
Stuff was part of the lad magazine gold rush of the late 90s, and primarily directed at fending off the now deceased FHM and capturing money from advertisers who could not afford the big bucks of big brother Maxim.
FHM is gone and Stuff has gone through more identities than Peter Braunstein when he was on the lam. At various times it was a sort of Maxim clone, a "toys for boys" guide, a "lifestyle compass for young men," and a crazed subversive inner tour of questionable mental stability under Greg Gutfeld. Despite its "in the shadows" status to Maxim, Stuff managed to land some
big names on its covers in its heyday, like JLo and Amber from
The Quadrangle Group gets to keep the valuable "Stuff" trademark and the Reaper has a boatful of Stuff magazine b-list babes which is causing everything to rock back and forth. If I push away the cobwebs, the Reaper has a special dark bed under which we will keep our stack of Stuff magazines. There is now one less place in the world where slasher flick chicks and "don't blink" TV actresses can promote their latest roles.
The minutes are ticking by, when we'll see if the venerable #2 men's title Stuff will be "stuffed" into Maxim like raw meat into a sub zero freezer. The closing of Dennis Publishing's sale to The Quadrangle Group should be this week.
When we last heard, Stuff was going to survive the new ownership, but it was unknown as to what form.
Not looking good for the Stuff boys, if there doesn't seem to be a reason for the title to stay. While Emap pulled the plug on FHM back in December when they saw the writing on the wall, that same writing could be seen here -- lagging newsstand, dropping ad sales, and somehow it feels like a dated concept by now. Stuff has been in Maxim's shadow for more than several years and there's no reason it can't be the "boy's toys" section in Maxim. The "Stuff" trademark is a great brand name, but to continue to pour money into it as a magazine may be fruitless.
The Reaper is hoping to get its hands on some of the cool gear in the Stuff freebie box. I can use a new MP3 player for those long boat hauls, when the Reaper wants to hear nothing but Pink Floyd. Do you ever notice that nobody writes songs about death anymore? You have to go back a good 25 or 30 years if you want to hear music about madness, insanity and mortality. They just don't write them about death like they used to. My Nick Drake tapes are wearing out.
You think the Reaper just operates in the grand US of A? Uh uh. Plenty of trouble with our friends up north, finding out that the advertising and circ pictures there are, well, just as cold down here.
To the left you see Toro magazine, Canada's acclaimed answer to Maxim, Details and the eternally confused Giant. It's been around since 2003, and now it's a rider on the Reaper's boat. As noted by the Canadian Magazine blog, Toro was a controlled circulation magazine that depended very little on subscribers. The ad picture got so grim that well, you do the math.
Dead or not dead? Looks dead. Smells dead. Reads dead.
But it seems that Jamie Hooper's filthy rich father-in-law -- you know the one I've told you about a few times in the past -- has decided enough is enough. But according to Radar magazine, it's still not keeling over and joining me for a long overdue ride down the River Styx.
In what must be one of the luckiest strokes in the magazine business, one that Emap couldn't even pull with FHM, the magazine is being sold to a publicly-traded radio company called Radio One. Their boilerplate says they are "the
largest radio company that primarily targets African American and urban
More than ever, Giant magazine is on the Reaper's list of Magazines To Watch Die. When radio people take over the publication of a magazine, it's the lunatics running the asylum (Radio One already saw its profit drop 30% in their third quarter 2006). Are they planning on turning Giant into another Vibe or King?
So while Hooper and his rich father-in-law have escaped the scythe, Giant magazine will almost certainly fall. Down here.
FHM moves a little bit closer into "vulnerable" territory, on the road to "endangered."
Mediaweek reports the struggling men's-gone-softcore-porn title fired five people, including its longtime fashion director, basically conceding all fashion coverage. Bad bad sign for a major men's title.
Let's start putting the pieces together here: racy covers wrapped at Grand Central Station, porn actress writes blog on their web site, and now all fashion coverage has been dumped. As predicted, advertisers are getting turned off by FHM's path towards porn and leaving the magazine, making the title more reliant on newsstand sales.
Here's what the Reaper predicts for FHM: their web site eventually veers into Playboy territory, carrying "enlargement" ads and who knows, Spanish fly? The magazine continues on its path towards Juggs/Black Tail territory until Emap, realizing that they were crazy ever to stick around in the US, puts the poor title and Dana Fields out of their misery (with a little assistance from yours truly).
When a major men's title gets covered up two months in a row because the Grand Central Station landlord thinks it's too sexy, that's trouble for FHM. The Reaper is putting FHM on its "observation list."
Lord knows what it takes the landlord of Grand Central Station to get nervous about a magazine cover -- this is in the heart of one of the more liberal cities in the Northeast.
But being covered up two months in a row means that FHM is descending into softcore porn. And one that tag sticks, it'll be aligned with Playboy, which will mean the kiss of death for advertisers. FHM will become much more dependent on newsstand sales, which may make parent Emap a little nervous.
When FHM launched, they wanted to show themselves off as a lad title with the emphasis on fashion. Clearly, now the emphasis is on less clothes altogether.
The Reaper thinks that if FHM keeps getting covered up at Grand Central and tossed out of retail chains, the stink of porn is going to accelerate it right into my bony hands. The Reaper thinks it can provide a much-needed American write-off for Emap.