What else would you expect from a magazine launched on April Fool's Day?For their fifth anniversary, the editors of Maxim created 13 separate editions of a special "Greatest City on Earth
package, each one declaring a different metropolis the winner.
The magazine's ploy worked superbly, generating the kind of buzz that media pundits have come to expect from the publication.
Maxim's chicanery came to light after the Detroit Free Press ran a front-page article on the honor. The journalist soon got a call from a friend in Atlanta, who said that he had just picked up Maxim - and the copy he read named his city the best.
"We came clean with him,
explained Drew Kerr, president of Four Corners Communications, Maxim's PR firm.
Kerr has grown accustomed to the controversies Maxim generates, but this stunt had him a little nervous.
"I have been more worried about this in the past three months than anything else,
he said. "We had countless debates about whether this was going to backfire - would people get the joke, or would they just get mad?"
The reaction has been mixed. Kerr estimated that 95% of reporters found the stunt funny. The other 5% thought they'd been had.
Some of the harshest criticism has been levied at Maxim's editorial team for, as the New York Press put it, "brilliant marketing supported by questionable, even faintly despicable editorial.
Meanwhile, those supportive of the effort lauded the stunt, with many particularly appreciative of Maxim's spin on the "best of
The story took on an added twist when boxes of the New York issue wound up in Philadelphia. "The Philly media called us for comment,
"We gave it to them in one word: 'Oops.'"