Mickey Mouse question:

Mickey Mouse question: Martha talks with Business Week and compares her company without her to Disney without Walt; in other words, the show goes on. Not really a good comparison (as the reporter observes) Walt didn’t cast himself as star of his cartoons. However, there are several other good comparisons in the media world of brands outliving the exit from management (or from this life) of their brand’s namesakes: Forbes, Warner, Bloomberg, Crain, etc.


Flashback: AT&T CEO David Dorman comments during a Forbes.com chat about his short stint at a failed dot.com seem familiar. (via Ditherati):

Did your PointCast experience sour you on the Internet?

DORMAN: No. It was a fun and painful experience with entrepreneurialism, market dynamics and personalities. It really had nothing to do with my feeling about the Internet.

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.

Definition of the word Vaporzine

Vaporzine /vay’-per-zeen/ n. [origin: rexblog adaptation from the ancient geek word vaporware.]

1. An idea for a magazine announced far in advance of its actual launch (which may or may not actually take place).

2. Any ideas that are leaked to reporters by a media company that is actively researching the prospect of creating a new magazine concept.

A note of clarification for publishers who think they should be angry that I’m calling their magazine concept something negative: The term vaporzine is not one of derision regarding a magazine concept or plan, nor does it indicate any judgement on the part of this weblog about the magazine or planned magazine’s chances for success. It refers merely to the stage at which an announcement, press release and prototype is all that actually exists during a pre-launch or “premiere” issue stage of a magazine start-up process. Actually, I think all magazine concepts are wonderful and want to assure you that yours has, gee, a really good chance of succeeding. Again, just for clarification for those of you who did a google search on your magazine’s title and came to this, I call ALL pre-launch magazines vaporzines, not just yours.