Print media is one of my obsessions, particularly magazines. I’m currently reading an article by Mary Kaye Schilling titled “Alex Timbers Hadn’t Seen ‘Rocky’ . . . “ The subtitle reads in its entirety, “. . . When he knew he wanted to make it a musical. In the ring with the ‘boy genius’ of theater.”
The article grabs you first line, “Will everyone with ringside tickets kindly rise and proceed to take your places. “ Why? It’s good writing, excellent writing. The article is printed in the February 24th-March 9th, 2014 edition of New York. Yes, a bit dated but relevant nonetheless. As are the other articles, such as “Why Sext?” and “Fashion: What is Normcore?” and “I Give Up.” A scathing portrayal of how the press has practically destroyed Alex Baldwin’s life. He’s fed up with it and tells the readers why.
And that’s just one issue. In the almost 50 years of publication, New York Magazine has fascinated, bewildered, and shamed people, places and things. New York is a bi-weekly magazine concerned with life, culture, politics, and style generally, and with a particular emphasis on New York City.
Founded by Milton Glaser and Clay Felker in 1968 as a competitor to The New Yorker, it was brasher and less polite, and established itself as a cradle of New Journalism. Over time, it became more national in scope, publishing many noteworthy articles on American culture by writers such as Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Nora Ephron, Frank Rich, John Heilemann, and Gail Sheehy, just to name a very few of journalism’s greatest writers.
My first introduction to the magazine was over 40 years ago when I was for whatever reason at O’Hare in Chicago. I loved magazines then, and I was looking at what was being offered at the newsstand. And then I saw it, the famous New York Logo (which has never changed) and the skyline of the Big Apple. I never hesitated. I slipped out a copy and bought it right there. And I have been receiving the magazine ever since.
Why? First off I love New York. I always have. Even before I took on Journalism as my major at Roosevelt, my Dad would bring me a New York Times. The real New York Times not the sissy digital copy that’s circulating today printed here in Chicago. No. This was the real thing. This was the actual paper flown into Chicago. He didn’t bring me one every day, but when he did, I ravished it as if it were my first meal in months. And in some respects it was. I never could get enough of New York.
I know the streets, the clubs, and the restaurants. I can tell you when Elaine’s closed, when Studio 54 opened, where the best Jazz clubs are, the best theaters, the finest cigar lounges. I know New York. So why don’t I live there? Too expensive. What I make as a broker here wouldn’t rent me a one bedroom closet in Midtown.
So what’s the point? Ok. I love New York. And I love the magazine. It’s been around for over 40 years. The writers have changed, some have passed, and others fled to other publications. The design of the magazine has changed numerous times, the type font has been altered, and the topics have covered everything and anything imaginable. Even Adam Platt, the restaurant critic, revealed his true identity to the readers with nary a shake of nerves. The magazine has changed but not its soul. Yes, I believe New York Magazine, just like The New Yorker, has a soul.
When Clay Felker created the philosophical template for New York, he destroyed the only mold that he had created in his mind. It is what it is to this day because of the magazine’s soul. Its Spirit. And it’ll be that way until I move into another dimension.
So why is it that some cigar manufacturers are so impatient with their brands? Why? One new company comes up with brand A. It’s released in March. It has no foothold on the market place. It’s not in every store. Few, if any, really know about the cigar. Yet, that same company is going to introduce a new brand at the show.
Slow cooking makes the meat tender and juicy. Time is the key to building a brand. Give it a chance to meld into the marketplace. Yes, there will be changes – the blend, the band, the box, and the way it is advertised. But all that takes time. Trial and error. And great people behind the product who truly understand that really are not in the business to just sell cigars. They are in the business to establish a brand.
And those who realize this are still here, and add little to their lines. They don’t throw a blend against the wall and hope it sticks. They have the inner belief that what they have created is good and that it will change over the years, but change takes time. Unless you give a brand time to build you’re spinning your wheels or better yet, rolling your tobacco for naught.
Hint: despite the FDA attacks. Despite the fear that has permeated the industry. In light of the way the world has changed its viewpoint on smoking, brand building is still the key to success. We still have time. We still have the ability to make a mark. But only if we allow the changes to take place slowly and hope whoever is at the helm has the passion not just to make a buck, but to build a brand into something no one can ever take away – a brand with credibility and respect. No one can take away that despite the fear mongering that has pierced our consciousness.
Make your cigar the New York Magazine of Cigars. Make your cigar the raison d’etre. Yes, it’s going to take time – but we really do – have time on our side.