Maxim Selects New Ad Agency

N.Y. Shop CMG Is First for Magazine Since TBWA/C/D in ’97
NEW YORK–Fast-growing men’s magazine Maxim has hired a shop to launch its first major ad campaign, as owner Dennis Publishing plans to branch into online publishing, books, licensing and possibly TV.
CMG Communications in New York will create a campaign for early next year that will be backed by an estimated $10 million media budget, sources said. Maxim has not worked with a shop since TBWA/Chiat/Day’s New York office handled the launch ads in spring 1997.
“Maxim is becoming a brand; not just a magazine,” said Keith Blanchard, group creative director for Maxim and Stuff magazines. “We’re looking for a way to communicate the essential Maxim-ness of what we do.”
In less than three years, Maxim has become a circulation powerhouse–its rate base for the first half of 2000 will be 1.5 million, a 131 percent increase from the same period in 1999, according to Dennis.
The magazine picked CMG over DDB’s Chicago office, and Dweck!, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, and the former Ammirati Puris Lintas, all New York. The search committee–which was composed
of Blanchard; Stephen Colvin, Dennis president; Lance Ford, publisher; Mike Soutar, Maxim editor-in-chief; and Kim Willis, marketing manager–started talking with 12 shops about two months ago before narrowing the list to five finalists.
Those contenders were asked by Maxim to put on their editors’ hats and write beat captions for a collection of otherwise-cheery holiday-card images. CMG returned its pitch in three different envelopes that were marked, “Mild,” “Medium” and “Wash your hands,” said Mark D’Arcy, creative director of CMG. The shop’s raunchy copylines included one that notes, “The fact that Brian was a midget didn’t stop him from kissing Mary under the mistletoe.” Another showed a beautiful woman with Santa Claus, along with the line: “11:01 p.m.–Jenny learns that Santa Claus is real. 11:04 p.m.– Santa Claus learns that Jenny’s are real.”
“Maxim is a cool brand and we like working on cool brands,” said D’Arcy. The $6O million CMG boasts clients like Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic. CMG this year created ads supporting Virgin’s tie-in with the Mike Myers comedy Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, including one billboard that showed Powers leering, “Five times a day? Yeah, baby!” to tout Virgin’s five daily flights to London.
The expanding Dennis may be looking for additional shops. “It’s possible,” said Blanchard. “We’re starting up new brands, like Stuff.” K