Posted by: Helen Walters on October 30, 2009
Everyone knows that print magazine advertising figures aren’t quite adding up as publishing executives might like. So I was intrigued to be taken on a tour of Esquire magazine’s “ultimate bachelor pad.” The tony, 9,200 square foot space is actually two adjacent penthouse apartments (valued at around $20 million) in the heart of SoHo in Manhattan. Together, the pads serve two purposes: to show off a carefully curated environment fit for 2009 Esquire Man—and to lock in sponsors to buying pages of magazine advertising.
First things first. It seems like EM’09 himself isn’t too troubled by the state of the economy. In this world, he shoots pool on an $80,000, digitally-enhanced table designed by Obscura Digital (shown, left. Pool balls, tracked by motion sensors above, “reveal” the image of an Esquire magazine cover as they roll across the table). He hosts poker nights in a room filled with large portraits of “poker-faced” celebrities and a Baccarat chandelier designed by Philippe Starck. His art installation room shows an incredible piece by video artist, Luke Dubois, and when all the excitement gets too much, he can step outside and hop into one of his two hot tubs to stare out over Manhattan or along the terrace, past the sun screens/night lights custom-designed for Davidoff (below).
And as for the advertisers? Well, Stephen Jacoby, the project’s mastermind and Esquire’s associate publisher of marketing, was keen to emphasize that sponsors were still keen to participate in this, the seventh year. “This is a huge undertaking for the magazine and our staff. We don’t automatically say we’ll do it again,” he said in a phone interview. “But we took it to market last fall, when the economy started falling apart, and people said ‘sure, sign me up’. It wasn’t so much us forcing as them pushing.”
Room sponsors this year include Diesel, which installed an in-home recording studio, and Hugo Boss, which took care of the master bedroom. The brands also committed to taking out six ad pages in the magazine, at around $100k a pop. Jacoby declined to share details of Esquire’s own investment in the project, but reckons that this year they sold 50 incremental ad pages off the back of it. Not to be sneezed at.
Of course, show homes are nothing new, but Esquire also throws charity events at the venue, so that movers and shakers can actually play with the technology and the toys. (I do wonder how the swirly moving graphics on the pool table mix with alcohol.) Around 5,000 people attend an event to see the space up close in the two months that it’s open. Mere mortals get to take the virtual tour.
Images: Zach DeSart