Why Esquire Magazine Gets It

The February issue of Esquire Magazine does not look very different from past editions of the title. It’s glossy, full of editorial that’s designed to help their audience of young urban men be hip and trendy. It’s chock full of advertising that supports the publication’s market.

What is different is that once again, the publication has mixed digital “reality” with their print product and is driving their readers to the newsstand to pick up a print copy.

The magazine actually has several interactive features in this issue. In one, readers can download an app to their iPhone and interact with model Brooklyn Decker (who’s name reminds me more of something I’d find in Home Depot instead of on the pages of the Victoria’s Secrets catalog) in the magazine area of a Barnes & Noble Store.

In another, they can use the same app to locate the Esquire Magazine logo in one of several cities that was geo tagged by the app.

Brooklyn Decker on the February Cover. No, this isn't a B&N store.


Esquire has a pretty good history of using digital within the confines of their print product and they seem to be getting better at it every time. I have to say that I was very impressed a year  ago when Esquire demonstrated their design wizardry with the  Robert Downey, Jr. cover.

Robert Downey Jr.'s Augmented Reality Issue.

This past November, when Playboy Magazine launched their “Golden Ticket” newsstand promotion, I was even more thrilled. Could it be that we publishers are finally realizing that you can use social media to push single copy sales?

I’ll be tracking the sales of this issue of Esquire. Will these efforts pay off in increased sales?

Publishing consultant, digital guru, sometime defender of ink on paper, and one heck of a writer and commentator, Bob Sacks of BoSacks.com fame commented on the Esquire promotion in a recent newsletter and wondered if

At the end of the day a printed magazine should stand on its feet and proudly be what it is – a damn good read. All the other stuff is bluster, smoke and mirrors. If your magazine is a digital magazine, have at it and be all that you…can be. If it is instead a traditional magazine, then you should be all that you can be.

I’d have to disagree. Respectfully, of course. He gets more hits on his site than I do.

I don’t see this as stunt as much as two very distinct actions. The first follows in the footsteps of the Robert Downey, Jr. cover and their 75th Anniversary cover by pushing the boundaries of printing and showing how flexible the printed page can be.

The second strikes me as a marketing program designed to attract readers to the print edition and then show those readers what exists for the magazine digitally. It demonstrates, successfully I think, that a print magazine is so much more than ink smeared on dead trees. If I had designed these promotions, I would have pointed out that we are getting Esquire print readers more wrapped up in our digital offerings. Likewise, we may be moving some digital readers to go and spend some money (!) on our print products.

Like so many things in the 21st century, a magazine does not have to fit in a very neat and tidy box anymore. Is a “crossover” car a sport utility vehicle, a mini-van or a station wagon? Is a Super Wal-Mart a discount department store, an electronics store, a hardware store or a supermarket? Will you buy your next washer and dryer combo at Best Buy, Home Depot, Sears or somewhere else?

When the technology gets there, will a “print” magazine be nothing more than ink on dead trees (or hemp)? Or will it be a hybrid of the former and then something else? Maybe something that is both print and digital.

Editorially, I admire Esquire Magazine, although it doesn’t speak to me anymore. But I truly applaud their efforts to both promote their single copy sales, and use contemporary marketing techniques to promote their, ahem, brand. More publishers should take notice.

4 Replies to “Why Esquire Magazine Gets It”

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