Playing it safe in the quest for dollars

Call it the ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ syndrome.

In tough times, when media creatives want to play it safe, instead of developing something new for public consumption, they go back to known quantities, recycling successful talent and ideas from the past.

That’s how we ended up this year with Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars, Madonna performing at the Super Bowl and Mick Jagger closing out the latest season of Saturday Night Live.  Sure, you may have seen it before, but you know what you’re getting.

So it came as no surprise this week when two publishers announced they would bring back previously shuttered men’s magazines.

Rodale intends to reintroduce BEST LIFE* magazine this fall as a special interest publication – often code for test issue.  Since ceasing print as a victim of the recession in 2009, it has lived on as a front-of-book section in the pages of MEN’S HEALTH*.  Covering topics like style, wealth (a clue to the target market), travel and fatherhood, the new edition is scheduled to drop on October 23.

In a more unusual move, Conde Nast’s Fairchild Fashion Media is resurrecting M MAGAZINE from the grave, 20 years after it succumbed.  Formerly known as M: THE CIVILIZED MAN, the quarterly is aimed at “guys in their thirties and forties,” and touted by some as a cross between WOMEN’S WEAR DAILY* and STYLE.COM*.  Fairchild plans a modest initial circulation of 100,000 beginning in September.

But this isn’t about nostalgia, and the testosterone target isn’t the only thing these two publications have in common.

Both titles are going after affluent readers and luxury advertisers, at a time when magazines like HAMPTONS* are seeing renewed strength. A host of new offerings such as DU JOUR* and BLOOMBERG PURSUITS* are designed to appeal to an affluent audience at a time when top-tier incomes are holding up well in an otherwise flat economy.

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