American Mass-Market Magazines

By Alan Nourie; Barbara Nourie | Go to book overview

natural models to mirror the magazine's readers. Also, GQ went head-to-head with Esquire for feature articles by well-known writers to improve the written content. 3 Writers Joseph Heller, Garry Wills, and Roy Blount, Jr., were featured. Richard Avedon was hired to photograph all covers in 1984 to give them a distinctive look reflecting the new approach in content.

Publisher Steve Florio positioned GQ completely in the life-style market. An alumnus of Esquire under Gingrich, he aimed GQ squarely at his former employer's readers. Florio added numerous articles about men's services such as grooming, health, food, and travel. The number of departments soared to over twenty, with music, cars, theater, and movies added to the mix.

Still, differences between Esquire and GQ remained. Robert Farley, senior vice-president of the Magazine Publisher's Association, divided up the market in 1984 demographically by theme. For M,* Fairchild Publications' entry in the field, the theme is "Having It Made." Esquire's theme is "Man at His Best," which appears as the motto on the cover, and GQ's theme is "Making It." 4

By the end of 1984, GQ had an audited circulation of 607,177, an increase of 8.3 percent over the previous year. Its ad pages were up 43.5 percent with a ratio of ads to editorial copy of 55-45. The September 1984 issue had 470 pages, "so fat with ads that specially reinforced coffee tables may be required to hold it." 5 Certainly, the economics of GQ have matured along with its readers. Gail Pool, a magazine reviewer, wrote:

It might be argued that the current trend in men's magazines is a response to the women's movement--that men are more vulnerable, more concerned about looking good and pleasing women, more open to advice. A more likely explanation, however, is that service magazines, with their advertising links, are economically safer than other types. Thus Mr. Reader is now addressed as Miss and Mrs. Reader have long been addressed: as M. Consumer.

I suspect that men's life style magazines will continue in this direction, attempting, as literally as possible, to find answers to the question: What do men want . . . to buy? 6

In September 1988, GQ was a clear leader among men's life-style magazines, and Pool's predictions were holding true. Over 139 advertisers were represented in 492 pages. The mix of fashion and features established in 1957 is intact, as are the departments added in the early eighties. GQ is positioned in the middle of the "baby boom" generation of American men. If GQ does not know what most men want, it is nevertheless a success at giving upper middle-class men suggestions about what to buy.


Notes
1.
Arnold Gingrich, Nothing But People ( New York: Crown Publishers, 1971), pp. 24- 33, 67.

-138-

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