Is there trouble brewing in men's lifestyle media?
The announcement that Cargo will cease publication next month has raised the possibility that the category may have reached saturation.
But Michael Olguin, president of Formula PR, says the demise of Cargo - along with several other young male-centric magazines - is more a reflection of how men shop than of what they read. "Women love to look at magazines, and it highly influences their buying decision," he says. "Men look at it purely as entertainment."
"People talk about issues with men's lifestyle," adds Marc Bell, CEO of Penthouse Media, whose signature magazine has gone through a shift in editorial focus, adding far more product and lifestyle coverage and even toning down some of the pictorials. "But they forget the category over the last 10 years has grown from a 7 million circulation to almost double that today."
The key to all that growth has been a tried-and-true formula. "All men's magazines have the same format," says Fred Paik, account supervisor with Bender/ Helper Impact. "They have their entertainment section, they've got pictorials, and usually one serious article. But they all have a front-of-the-book section like FHM Scanner, and if you have fun facts or products, you can slide in there."
Olguin adds that while many tend to lump the 18- to 34-year-old men's outlets together, some of the publications focus on different segments within that group. "FHM and Stuff tend to skew a bit younger - under 21- so if you represent an alcohol brand, that may not be your best target," he says.
Like most lifestyle outlets, men's magazines are looking for celebrities, but as Paik, who works with Fox Home Entertainment, notes: "They don't have to be female celebrities. For Family Guy, we worked with both FHM and Hustler, developing Q&As with the show's characters."
Nick Baily, director of publicity for Shore Fire Media, suggests that, given how many companies are pitching these outlets, single products may not be the best strategy anymore. "In the case of products, you really need to be part of something," he says. "If you're representing a company that has software for a home media center, you can suggest they combine it with a flat-screen TV in a home entertainment wrap-up."
Dan Harnett, co-CEO of the Highwater Group, adds that men's magazines also welcome pitches that reflect their often-irreverent tone. "Sometimes you need to be edgier, sometimes tongue-in-cheek," he says. "It helps frame the story and shows you understand the audience."
PITCHING... Men's Lifestyle
This is an aspirational, upwardly mobile audience. Don't necessarily pitch bargains; pitch dream products
Men's outlets love stars, so find ways to get well-known spokespeople involved in creating content, such as guest-writing an advice column or offering a tips list
Many such titles rely heavily on freelancers for content, so develop relationships outside the magazine, and don't forget to also include pitches to the magazine's Web site