PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Maxim's petition is worth writing about

As if putting unattainable women and Star Wars trivia in the same magazine wasn't smart enough.

As if putting unattainable women and Star Wars trivia in the same magazine wasn't smart enough.

Now the editors of Maxim are extending their brand, sort of, with a foray into species preservation. What sad animal is the lad mag looking to save? Its own readers, naturally: The guys who don't get "mani/pedis," fear smoothies, and think the world's only Yogi led the Yankees in RBIs from 1949 to 1955. In a petition filed with the US Interior Department, Maxim asked that "real men" be granted endangered species status. Without that protection, the petition notes, "Man will surely succumb to the ravages of an effeminate, feng-shui world gone mad." It may sound like a joke, but the petition was real (as was major coverage in The Washington Post and The New York Times). Legally, the petition can't be dismissed out of hand and will be processed like any other endangered species request. In reality, this is less a PR stunt then an integrated effort to re-up the mag's brand among readers and, maybe more so, advertisers. Mock wilderness signs warning, "Don't manicure the man" and "Don't feed tofu to the man," have plastered US cities for weeks. And a brochure sent to ad agencies this month reminds advertisers that Maxim is the way "to reach men." Those agencies will get copies of the petition inside special editions of the December issue, and all January copies will carry it. EndangeredMan.com, launched this week, rounds out the effort. Whether arguing over who's hotter, Princess Leia or Lara Croft, is how "real men" spend their Saturday nights, we'll let you decide.
  • Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's Washington, DC, bureau chief. Ratings: 1. Clueless 2. Ill-advised 3. On the right track 4. Savvy 5. Ingenious

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