Editor of the Year 2008: David Zinczenko

The editor in chief of Rodale’s Men’s Health is fresh off an appearance on NBC’s Today show to promote his latest book, Eat This, Not That, and apparently, even if you’ve been named one of People’s 50 Most Eligible Bachelors, as David Zinczenko was in 2003, there’s still more to do to put your best face forward.

So, on days like these, this prince of all media–who, besides running the 1.8 million-circ men’s monthly and co-authoring books on fitness, nutrition and relationships, serves as editorial director of Men’s Health’s 496,000-circ lifestyle spinoff BestLife and a senior vp of Rodale, and has become a familiar presence on daytime talkers–must submit to a makeup artist. At least he has a sense of humor about it. “I still have my war paint on,” says AdweekMedia’s Editor of the Year, gesturing somewhat self-consciously to his smoothly pancaked face.

If this is a war, it’s hard to imagine who Zinczenko is battling–he’s left most of his opponents in the dust.

Since being named editor in chief in 2000 at the age of 30, Zinczenko has shaped Men’s Health into the world’s best-selling men’s magazine brand on the newsstand. At a time when even the most established books are struggling to sell copies, Men’s Health–which backs up its tagline “Tons of useful stuff” by packing the magazine and its companion Web site with quick hits of advice on fitness, health, weight loss, nutrition, sex and style–actually picked up the pace this past year.

U.S. single-copy sales rose 4 percent to 540,150 in the year’s second half versus a year earlier, per the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Also in ’07, the magazine raised its rate base for the fifth straight year, and this year boosted it once more to 1,775,000 with the January/February issue. Respected industry analyst Dan Capell, in his Capell’s Circulation Report, named Men’s Health “Top Circulation Performer of the Decade.”

Advertising business, meantime, is through the roof. For full-year 2007, under the guidance of vp, publisher Jack Essig, ad revenue soared 19.4 percent year over year to $178 million, on an 11.8 percent jump in ad pages to 1,176, reports Publishers Information Bureau (this, compared with flat revenue and a 5.9 percent drop in ad pages in 2006 versus the year prior).

The magazine was just nominated for the American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine Award for General Excellence in its circ category, with the likes of Condé Nast’s The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, as well as an Ellie nom in the Leisure Interests category. (Winners will be announced May 1.)

Men’s Health has established itself as a powerhouse online, too. Last year, Rodale handed editors of its magazines, including Zinczenko, responsibility for their own Web sites, giving creative control to the people who know their brands best. Menshealth.com now features more than 500 video clips and the daily Men’s Health Minute, in addition to tips on practical topics like how to make a killer omelette or the best weekend workout. The number of unique visitors as of last month versus a year earlier exploded 168 percent, reaching 1.54 million, reports Nielsen Online. Rodale reports online ad revenue has tripled in the last year.

Men’s Health devotees can’t seem to get enough of the magazine and its ever-increasing sidelines. Men’s Health now publishes 40 international editions in markets including Italy, India, South Korea and Kazakhstan. Recently, Zinczenko added investigative pieces, with reports from hot spots including Darfur, Iraq and Afghanistan–resulting in a journalistic mix that’s both brainy and brawny. “Since Dave took over, he’s really taken it to a whole other level,” says Jeff Morgan, president of product licensing at Polo Ralph Lauren and publisher of Men’s Health when Zinczenko came on board in March 1993.