`Details' had lost its cool. So, in 2000, with ad pages and readership heading south, Advance Publications shut the Conde Nast title down and shipped it off to sibling company Fairchild Publications. The former must-read for trendsetters was a lightning rod for attention. "[Relaunch publisher] wasn't a job many people wanted," says Fairchild CEO-President Mary Berner. But there was one guy who, she thought, could make it work: Conde Nast Traveler's associate publisher, William Wackerman.
"He wanted it. He was confident," says Ms. Berner. With the laddie craze in full swing, Ms. Berner says Mr. Wackerman "homed in on what the unique selling proposition of the magazine would be."
"I always felt Details, if positioned right, could be a winner," says Mr. Wackerman, 36.
Nearly four years later, Mr. Wackerman has, as escalating ad numbers prove, made Details a must-buy once more. Marketers want to meet the anti-lads, the metrosexuals-basically, straight guys who shop and preen with glee-and Details delivers them.
A much-discussed June 22, 2003, New York Times article called Details "a kind of metrosexual bible." Mr. Wackerman couldn't have been happier. "I thought it was right on," he says. He also believes that the metrosexual man hasn't reached his peak: "We're on the verge of a trend."
aiming for 1,000 pages
According to the Publishers Information Bureau, Details ran 471 ad pages through July 2003, up 37.1% from 2002. Mr. Wackerman's plan: break 1,000 pages this year and, in 2004 hit 1,200. "They're two years ahead on the total business plan," says Ms. Berner.
Details has a rate base of 400,000 on circulation of 418,000. Mr. Wackerman doesn't intend to push it higher. "We don't want to dilute the readership" of this "very valuable guy to marketers," says Mr. Wackerman. "It's not just about eyeballs, it's about the right guy."
Advertisers are clearly tickled by the money-spending ways of the Details reader. From the get-go, it "provided an intelligent alternative to the laddie books," says Lisa LaCasse, manager of media planning for Gardena, Calif.-based Nissan North America.
She adds that Mr. Wackerman's "enthusiasm is just contagious. He's constantly striving to bring new opportunities and go beyond the pages of the magazine." The publisher's current crop of off-the-page opportunities includes short films distributed through Film Movement and Details-engineered product cameos in major motion pictures-watch for Details and Fortune Brands' Vox vodka in the recently released Miramax film, "Duplex." Details is also spinning out a quarterly shopping title, Vitals, which will hit magazine racks next March.
As for the competition, he's noticed that several men's titles have gone into the shop for Details-ing. Says the publisher: "Let's just say we're flattered."