The PLAY‘s the thing

PLAY Magazine from the New York Times attracts advertisers interested in a predominantly male demographic.

As Fishbowl has mentioned, the NYT‘s new sports magazine PLAY comes out on Superbowl Sunday, which is this Sunday.

PLAY is an interesting animal, a start-up mag with great cred and instant circulation of roughly one million*, courtesy of the Sunday Times. It also has instant cred in editor Mark Bryant, late of Outside (with three ASME Excellence Awards) and big dreams of being everything to every sporto: (“It is a magazine for all sports enthusiasts, from serious fans to those who lean more toward playing sports than watching them”).

I wondered how advertisers would see it – my guess was that the NYT would bag some new clients. Which, according spokesperson Diane McNulty, is exactly what has happened. According to McNulty, new advertisers in PLAY include the NFL, plus other sports leagues, athletic watches, and alcohol brands, plus “high-end sports cars and SUV’s that we don’t normally get, but are running in this publication for the sports/outdoor environment.” The issue will have 50 pages of advertising — “most of those campaigns being new to The Times.”

Wow. Big haul. There are gender implications to this, obviously — suddenly advertisers are jumping at an opportunity that typically is not associated with women (though if I could drive I’d want a cute sports car, and also, Malcolm Gladwell is a boy and he doesn’t like SUVs). Says McNulty: “The common thread is that they want to align themselves with a sports magazine that is unique — a thoughtful, intelligent New York Times approach to sports.” I would guess that another common thread is market research, but since I have done none, that’s all I have to say about that.

What you’ll find in PLAY this Sunday besides ads that know you’re discriminating and wonderful: Mark Levine‘s different-we-promise Bode Miller piece; Michael Lewis on football, specifically “the person who made the play that changed the course of Super Bowl I” and, indeed, football itself (factchecker, factchecker, check me a fact…); Chip McGrath, Joe Nocera and Michael Sokolove; plus Freakonomics duo Stephen Dubner and Steven Leavitt, on loan from the NYT mag. I know what you’re wondering: where are the chicks? Answer: draped all over that Lamborghini Ultra!** (We kid, we kid.) McNulty assured me that the mag is replete with female writers and photographers including writers Jennifer Allen and Gretchen Reynolds.

p.s. I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a Lamborghini Ultra.

*UPDATE: I originally used the 1.6 million Sunday circulation number from the NYT corporate site but Diane McNulty has more specific numbers: 800,000 paid copies in the NY area plus 150,000 bonus circulation outside of the NY area, for an approximate total audience of about 3 million readers in print and on-line.

Mark Bryant Comes Out to PLAY [Big & Sharp]

Related in audio:

Come Out And Play [Offspring]