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Men's Health: Page 1

Men's Health

When Men's Health magazine launched in 1986, naysayers said it wouldn't work. They said men didn't want general-interest lifestyle information, and that men didn't really read magazines in large numbers anyway. Twenty years later, with a circulation of over 1.8 million and a reputation as one of the leading men's magazines in the world, Men's Health proved the doubters wrong.

In the beginning, Men's Health , which began as an annual publication, was definitely something of an experiment. According to then executive editor Michael Lafavore, the magazine was conceived by Rodale Press president and COO Robert Teufel. Lafavore held focus groups with friends and Rodale employees and came to the conclusion that men really would read a lifestyle/service publication. He was right: The first issue sold 90,000 copies on the newsstand-impressive considering the magazine was produced by a staff of three. It was initially a tough sell with advertisers, who had never seen anything like the magazine. With its focus on health and relationships, sex and work, Men's Health was the first magazine to bring service journalism to the men's market. After three trial issues, it became a full-fledged quarterly in 1988. Later, it would expand to a bi-monthly publication, before increasing to a frequency of 10 times a year in 1994.

Tools for better living

Men's Health -and its publisher Rodale-aim to provide male readers with ways to enhance their lives. Unlike many other men's magazines, Men's Health addresses emotional issues, as well as fitness, health, grooming, stress, family and style. The editorial approach is to provide evidence of any claims made -in the form of expert knowledge and scientific studies-and to provide readers with the tools they need to make their lives better.

In 1994, Men's Health increased its circulation base from 650,000 to one million. The big jump represented a quadrupling in size for the title over the previous four years. Men's Health would go on to head the list of "best circulation performers" for the 1990's, as chosen by Capell's Circulation Report. During the decade, Men's Health saw circulation grow by 281 percent, from 437,000 in 1991 to 1.67 million as of first-half 1999. Single-copy sales rose by nearly 270 percent, to 424,900. Triumphs continued on into the next century. Men's Health was named to Adweek's "Hot List" of top 10 magazines (2004, 2005), Advertising Age's "A-List" for general excellence (2003), and a "Best Newsstand Performer of the Decade" by Capell's Circulation Report ('2004, 2005). The magazine also won a National Magazine Award in the personal service category in 2004. The magazine is now the number two men's magazine in the United States, behind Maxim.

Despite the impressive gains during its first decade, Men's Health found its sales slumping at the beginning of the new century. In response, the magazine-directed by new editor in chief David Zinczenko-shifted from mostly a workout and health format to a more comprehensive lifestyle product. The expansion included adding a cars column, a Men's Wealth column on finance, and more fashion and grooming features. Despite his relative inexperience, Mr. Zinczenko led the magazine through three straight years of solid growth in both advertising and circulation. He also brought a new emphasis on personal relationships. "I think readers come to us because they really want to understand women," said Zinczenko. A recent sex feature that made a big hit, for example, was an exploration of the role that sex plays in marriage. The magazine still runs sexy photos of women, but now these are accompanied by information about creating a more fulfilling relationship and healthier sex life.

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Written March 12, 2006 exclusively for MagsDirect.com. All right reserved.

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