Has Esquire Become “Good”?

According to media guru David Carr at the NYT, “Esquire is not dying — it is killing it.”  He goes on:

In 2011, a year when the magazine industry was flat to down a bit, Esquire was up 13.5 percent in ad pages from the previous year. This at a time when GQ was down 6.3 percent in advertising pages and Details was down more than 10 percent, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

And though Esquire may sell “Man at his best,” it’s not some kind of unattainable bible of perfection. Somewhere on the continuum between dude and dandy, the magazine has found a sweet spot; Esquire looks and feels like something a bunch of guys put together for a bunch of other guys, not a glossy widget produced by a big corporation.

There is a bawdy sensibility, partly lifted from lad magazines before they lost their heat, but there’s not a lot that’s dumb or rank. Esquire is something a regular guy can open up without feeling like a frat boy or a fop.

According to comScore, Esquire.com had over two million unique visitors in December 2011, up from over 300,000 as recently as September 2009. Advertisers like to see a legacy brand show muscle in a new realm.

“The Esquire you see in 2012 is a very different property than it was in 2006,” said Lee Jelenic, the United States advertising manager for cars at Ford, a company that knows a bit about recovery and reinvention. “It is a very competitive category, and Esquire has evolved very quickly as the landscape has changed.”

So the real question is whether or not Esquire has gotten there on substance or low-brow sex appeal.

One of the most popular new features, as noted by Carr, is the video on the home page where a beautiful woman tells a funny joke.  Here’s the current one:


Not quite as bad as the “Women We Love” section for which I took so much abuse criticizing in, “Cleavage or Soul: Women we Love for the Wrong Reasons” but not sure how watching Ms. Robbie helps us decipher the most pressing issues of manhood.

What do you think?

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.

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