America needs another men’s magazine like Bill Clinton needs
pointers on picking up women. But Bob Guccione Jr, erstwhile publisher
of Spin magazine and son of the Penthouse founder, Bob Sr, thinks
Flush with cash from the sale of Spin to Miller Publishing, Guccione Jr
launched Gear magazine this August. It purports to be designed for
’young, hip, urban males’ in a market already crowded with the likes of
Details, Icon, GQ, Esquire, Rolling Stone, POV, Men’s Health, Maxim,
Flicking through the launch issue of Gear, however, convinces one that
perhaps this magazine won’t get lost in the mob. Even though it is not
as crisp and pleasing to the eye as the prototype passed around Madison
Avenue earlier this summer, the debut August issue is smart, humorous
and bawdy, and manages to be a bit serious without falling into the trap
of thinking it’s the next Harpers magazine. As Gear finds its feet and
moves into a more rigid schedule, we’ll have to see if this broad
offering can hold up.
The main thing about Gear is that it appears to be an amalgam of some
pretty successful magazines - the editor simply picked the best
Solid investigative journalism like The Nation, a sex column ripped off
directly from Details’ Anka, a great interview from the pages of George,
a chic 50s fashion spread that’s a dead-ringer for last month’s
There’s a full-page of arty portraits of up-and-coming actresses that’s
very Vanity Fair, cheeky Spy-like articles about TV shows ’that must be
killed’ and the required laddish photos. Gear pulls this together to
create a hybrid magazine that doesn’t suffer an identity crisis: with an
editorial slant that is left-of-centre, open-minded and masculine.
There is one thing I don’t like about it - the name. It reeks of service
editorial that the public may shy away from, which is too bad because
the magazine has more to it than just cool stuff to buy.
Madison Avenue is confident that the public will snap up Gear. The first
issue holds about 70 pages of ads, beginning with Prada, DKNY and
Dockers and quickly running through premium liquors, cigarettes and
Guccione Jr has promised that this level won’t drop off.
Hopefully for him it won’t. With Gear’s mucho-expensive heavy paper
stock, clean and expansive art direction and sensible editorial slant,
the investment could pay off.
Cover price: dollars 2.99
Frequency: Bi-monthly; monthly from March 1999
Target audience: College educated men, aged 21-34
Target circulation: 200,000
Ad rate for four-colour page: dollars 16,500
Ad rate for mono page: dollars 12,375