The vapor trail

The vapor trail: It appears I have my first continuing drama of a vaporzine odessey (a reality show?) as (and I give him big credit for this) Brett Garfinkle criss-crosses the country in very PR-savvy fashion attempting the time-honored tradition of magazine launches, the approach better known as, “fake it til you make it.”

The current episode of “JAQK: Launching a Vaporzine,” can be found today in the LA Times.

For those new to this drama, here’s a synopsis:

April 1, 2003: Media News Daily chooses (or is it merely coincidental) April Fool’s Day to reveal Brett’s dream to launch a luxury magazine for men that has something to do with gambling. The magazine was going to appear “this fall” with two issue in 2003 and launch next March. (Later that day, I blogged the following: “Dear JAQK, read this.” Unfortunately, the “this” link goes to a Yahoo news story that is now dead and I have no recollection of what it was about.)

June 6, 2003: The Baltimore Sun runs a long story about JAQK & Brett, unfortunately, the link is now dead, but thanks to the google gods, the story still exists online. No specific launch date mentioned (certainly not that “in the fall” line.) We learn that friends & family are financing it and that some of the distribution will be through Casinos. Another twist: the magazine will be “two in one” magazines, edited by two editors. One will focus on risk, the other on reward. By this time, they have offices on Park Ave. (& 23rd Street) with eight full-time employees and they will be profitable after the third issue according to the reporter, probably meaning “cash flow positive.” The reporter (again, obviously transposing terms) says the magazine will need $6 million to be “cash flow positive.”

June 22, 2003 Uh-oh. Newseek reports that a magazine sounding awfully similar (at least in the elevator pitch level) to JAQK is being launched called Vegas. An 80,000 debut run with 75 pages of ads from the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce (note to reporters covering magazine debuts: ask if the ads are “paid”) with distribution through (this sounds familiar) “the poshest suites of the Strip’s ritziest resorts.”

Today, June 27, 2003: No mention in the LA Times story about the competitor, Vegas. But today’s article is significant in many ways: We meet the editors of the Risk & Reward sections and we learn that it will now take $4 million to put out the first two issues that will be not in “the fall” but next March and May. However, most significantly (especially for regulars of the rexblog), an article about JAQK finally, finally, includes the required quote from Samir Husni. Samir, my friend, reveals a interesting fact about himself in this interview, along with his dead-on assesment of the launchability odds of JAQK. Samir, my hero, notes:

“Everyone who brings a new men’s magazine into the market says they want to do something with a little more class than Maxim, for a little older and more sophisticated audience,” says Samir Husni, chairman of the magazine program at the University of Mississippi and publisher of an annual guide to new magazines.

“But I haven’t seen one duplicate the success of Maxim yet unless it’s like Maxim, and I don’t know if JAQK’s unique selling feature will be good enough from a marketing standpoint.

“Execution is important, though,” Husni says. “That’s why I never judge a magazine before it’s out.”

I could not have said it better myself. Again, Samir rules. But here’s that little Samir Husni tidbit that he let slip during the phone interview:

Still, Husni says he likes to gamble — he was doing so in Atlantic City when I reached him — “and as a betting person,” he says, “I’m not going to put my money on JAQK.”

Next time I see him, I’m going to suggest he and I launch a magazine that will be distributed exclusively through Mississippi casinos called BUBBA-JAQK

August 6, 2003: Update – Folio: mentions JAQK in a story on how much it costs to start-up a magazine these days.