Monday, May 14, 2007

Mag Bag: Stuff Goes to the Kentucky Derby, Stack Takes a Different Tack

Mag Bag: Stuff Goes to the Kentucky Derby, Stack Takes a Different Tack
by Erik Sass, Monday, May 14, 2007 7:00 AM ET

Stuff Goes to the Kentucky Derby, Stack Takes a Different Tack
Magazines are getting into event marketing in a big way, using high-engagement activities to draw groups of readers together and form a sense of identity centered on the publications. One favorite high-interest theme, of course, is sports--from both the fan and participant perspectives. These two sides of the sporting world have rather different vibes, of course.

The fan side might best be described as "decadent and depraved," at least when you're talking about the Kentucky Derby. A party hosted by Stuff magazine figured prominently among the revels on Saturday when Street Sense won the Kentucky Derby--as well as the revels both before and after the event, a 30-second race at the center of a two-day bout of upper-class binge drinking. The magazine, whose publisher wants to head up-market, is tapping into a variety of upper-crust class signifiers, including establishing its own online concierge service and now the Kentucky Derby. The association with Hunter S. Thompson, a renowned drinker, probably doesn't hurt either.

The Stuff magazine party on the eve of the Derby, after the Derby's annual Barnstable Brown party, was hosted by cover babe Taryn Manning, with guests including Jermaine Dupri, Janet Jackson, Joey Fatone, and NSync's Chris Kirkpatrick. Queen Elizabeth II did not attend--perhaps unconvinced by the "high class" vibe of the event; nor was she seen at the competing Crown Royal Playboy Lounge party.

The Derby party is one of a raft of upper-crust initiatives from Stuff and fellow Dennis Publishing title Maxim, which in recent years have both sought to shed its decade-old moniker of "lad mags." With the implosion of that category confirmed by the demise of down-market competitor FHM, the magazines are trying to reposition themselves as vehicles for advertisers to reach affluent, employed young men, both married and single, with (slightly) more highbrow content and lifestyle advice. Maxim is opening a chain of steakhouses with Jeffrey Chodorow, and has teamed with Concord Wilshire Partners to build a 2,300-room Maxim-themed hotel and casino on a 9-acre plot on the famed Las Vegas strip.

Meanwhile, Stack--a magazine targeting high school athletes with training tips and celebrity profiles--is taking a rather different approach: it's hosting a series of events where ambitious high school athletes can meet hundreds of coaches and recruiters from the nation's best collegiate athletic programs. In addition to helping readers get a shot at the big time, the recruiting events fit with the publication's multimedia delivery strategy: video of the events will be posted on the site, which also features exclusive video of celebrity athletes. Users are also invited to post clips of their workout routines and "best of" moments.

Since its founding in 2005, Stack has grown from an initial circulation of about 300,000 to 400,000 this year. With advertisers like Nike, Gatorade, U.S. Marines, Adidas, Sony PlayStation and New Balance, the magazine has a cover price of $4.99, but is distributed free to high school students through partnerships with school athletic directors. Its "Elite Tour" for high school football players will visit five cities: Atlanta on May 13th, Miami on May 19th, New York City on May 20th, Dallas on May 26th, and Los Angeles on May 27th.

Meredith to Map Home Renovation Projects, Consumer Behavior

Meredith Corporation is launching a research effort to figure out what consumers need for home renovations, when and how much of it they need, and where they typically go to procure it. The new research program, called HomeSight, promises to open a new area of business for Meredith's already substantial custom marketing efforts. HomeSight is being launched in partnership with CNW Marketing/Research, a consumer research organization based in Portland, Oregon. CNW's robust database of 5 million households covers a spectrum of geographic locations, financial attributes, "lifestages," and various related demographic attributes. Meredith will begin presenting the data to major homeware manufacturers and makers of other products used in home renovations, focusing on specific areas like bathroom or kitchen projects over the next couple of months.

Vibe's Gertler Steps Down

Eric Gertler, CEO of Vibe Media, is stepping down after 10 months, leaving the Wicks Group looking for a new publisher. No reason for the move was given; in January of this year Vibe President Ari Horowitz also stepped down. The Wicks Group, which owns Vibe Media, is said to be looking for a replacement for Gertler.

Mansueto Names Tebeau Publisher of Inc. Magazine

John Tebeau has been named publisher of Inc. magazine, effective immediately, according to Mansueto Ventures, which publishes both Inc. and Fast Company magazine. Mansueto CEO John Koten remarked: Under John's leadership, several new advertisers appeared in Inc. in the first quarter of 2007, including Comcast, Ketel One Vodka, Nissan Altima, Northern Trust, BMW, Wachovia, American Chemistry Council and UPS. His drive and vision will be instrumental in leading our advertising sales team as we continue to expand the Inc. brand with new ventures and programs." Tebeau was hired in 2005 as national sales director.

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