Men's magazine fallout?
Despite its tendency to provoke raised eyebrows, the term “mancession” has made its way into the verbiage of the recession. It has joined the ranks of the frugally fashionable “recessionista” and the group-powered coupon, the “groupon.”
Articles from The Atlantic and the New York Times claim the country’s current downturn has disproportionally affected men’s wallets, resulting in the tongue-in-cheek “mancession.” This trend isn’t only hitting wallets, however. Men’s fashion magazines have taken a hit as well.
According to MediaWeek’s Magazine Monitor Data Center, the September issue of Esquire and Details contain respectively about 20 percent and 24 percent fewer ad pages than last year’s September issues, while GQ and Maxim carry nearly 30 percent fewer ad pages than their ’08 counterparts.
Esquire is doing the best job hanging onto its ad pages for the year, showing an approximate 24 percent drop in yearly ad pages, or total ad pages run in the magazine this year, compared to this time in 2008. Perhaps advertisers were impressed by the title’s recent showing at the National Magazine Awards. The same cannot be said for advertisers in the magazine’s Japanese incarnation — Hearst folded the publication in June.
Condé Nast’s magazines are the year’s biggest losers, with GQ showing a 33 percent decrease in yearly ad pages compared to this time last year. Details, Conde’s other men’s interest title, is virtually flat lining, with yearly ad pages down over 34 percent. And Men’s Vogue, the spinoff-turned-full-fledged-magazine was shoved back into the womb last October when the company abruptly folded it into Vogue.
While Maxim’s 30 percent decrease in yearly ad pages is not exceptional in an industry that is currently witnessing decreases of 50 percent, the magazine’s U.K. version was shuttered by Dennis Publishing in April. Dennis Publishing sold the U.S. editions of Blender, Stuff and Maxim to New York-based Alpha Media in 2007. Maxim is that sale’s lone survivor.
In an article published on July 27, 2009, Advertising Age’s Nat Ives touches on the significance of ad pages, calling them “the dominant source of magazine income.” When an advertiser pulls out or orders fewer pages than expected, the publication’s bottom line is hurt immediately. Since a magazine’s ad page count is also regarded as a general health indicator, a decline in pages can spook other advertisers, perpetuating the cycle.
The declines at men’s fashion magazines are on pace with the declines happening in women’s fashion and beauty rags as well. So unless ad spending at men’s magazines plummets further in the final months of 2009, it’s safe to say we will make it into 2010 without creating a new word that is a mishmash of “men’s fashion magazine” “ad pages” and “recession.”
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