Publishing Vet Rolls Dice With JAQK

A publishing professional is living the risk-taking lifestyle and hoping to reap the rewards with a men's magazine set to launch this fall that espouses such behavior.

“It's not a gambling magazine, it's a magazine for people who gamble in life,” said Brett Garfinkel, founder, CEO and publisher of JAQK, New York. Garfinkel previously held positions with publishers such as Wenner Media, Meredith Corp. and Conde Nast.

With the subtitle No Risk, No Reward, JAQK — short for Jack, Ace, Queen, King — hopes to tap into the psyche of the 7.6 million men who fit its target demographic: 25- to 44-year-olds with an income exceeding $100,000.

Though the magazine's target includes guys who enjoy gambling at casinos, it goes beyond that. It includes males who place friendly wagers on everything from rounds of golf and fantasy sports leagues to sporting events on television.

“Guys have a competitive nature,” Garfinkel said. “No one likes to watch a game between the two worst teams in the division. They want to see the game that has meaning. That's where the betting comes in.

“Whether it's the thrill of the stock market or real estate market or starting their own company, these guys are risk-takers.”

As the former luxury director at Wenner Media publication Men's Journal, Garfinkel claims the magazine market underserves the demographic he is targeting.

His marketing director echoed his sentiments.

“We're creating a magazine for readers that don't have anything else,” said Debbie Fink, vice president of marketing at JAQK. “They're not really reading GQ or Details or Men's Journal.”

So, the next step is reaching this supposedly untapped market. To do that, JAQK will conduct direct mail and e-mail campaigns along with other efforts. These campaigns will begin in the early fall to coincide with the magazine's expected debut.

Direct mailings will include a free copy of the premier issue while the e-mailings will have a viral element, though specifics have not been decided, Fink said.

They intend to mail 750,000 copies of the first issue in September and 750,000 of the second issue, tentatively scheduled for December, she said. Also, 200,000 copies will be available on newsstands.

Though no postal or e-mail files have been ordered yet, Garfinkel and Fink have definite ideas about what files will work.

“We asked ourselves, 'Who are the guys that live this lifestyle, and what do they read?'” Garfinkel said.

Investment bankers came to mind first, he said, because they take risks in business for a living and don't slow down on weekends. So the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily and Institutional Investor seem like good lists to use, he said.

Other prime targets for JAQK would be producers, talent scouts and agents, making the Hollywood Reporter and Variety possibilities.

“We're looking at more business titles over consumer publication lists,” Fink said. “There's no magazine that's really suited to the needs of our target audience, so to rent consumer magazine lists isn't necessarily going to get us to the right person.”

Still, the largest source of names for the initial mailings will be the partnerships the publication has forged with casinos and health clubs.

Though Fink would not name them specifically, she said JAQK is in talks with select casinos to send the magazine to men in their databases who match the demographics of its target audience. JAQK also has a deal with Fitness Venture Group, which owns several health club chains, to mail the magazine to gym members.

As an incentive for subscribing, charter readers of JAQK will get a JAQK loyalty card entitling them to monthly discounts or perks at places like golf courses, restaurants, spas and other types of businesses. Current deals will be listed in each issue of the magazine.

“The card will offer hundreds of dollars in savings for just the charter rate of $12.99 during the first two issues,” Fink said.

As for advertising, Garfinkel claims several luxury goods marketers are close to signing on for the first issue.

“Luxury advertisers are lukewarm about most men's magazines but they are very excited about JAQK,” he said.

He predicts a circulation of about 300,000 by March when he plans to take JAQK bimonthly.

Of his odds on succeeding with JAQK, Garfinkel said, “We feel like we hold four aces right now.”

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