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20 November 2017 09:31 (South Africa)
Business

Men’s Health US plagiarises itself. Again.

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

  • Business
men's health us copying

The cover lines on the Men’s Health US December 2009 issue are a carbon copy of the cover lines that appeared in October 2007. But hey, what’s the big surprise?

Maybe it worked so well the first time they couldn’t help themselves. Either that, or the editorial team was so fatigued by their unforgiving monthly deadlines they reckoned they deserved a break. Then again, it’s possible they were testing whether their readership was in fact too dumb to notice. An office bet, perhaps? Sales versus editorial, with the former arguing that fresh content had become a totally unnecessary expense? Whatever it was that inspired Men’s Health magazine (the US version) to use the exact same cover lines on their December 2009 issue as had been used in October 2007, they got caught. And now they look like idiots. And, while we really hate to be uncharitable, it serves them right.

As reported by Gawker (and the awesome new media website, Mediaite), here’s a list of six remarkably creative cover lines that appeared on the two issues, with the almost identical positioning: "Six-Pack Abs!" "Dress for More Sex," "Gain Muscle, Lose Pounds," "Eat Better, Think Smarter," "Ultimate Cardio Plan," and, in the bottom left corner, the number “1,293”.

Here, too, is what Men’s Health editor-in-chief David Zinczenko said in his defense: “The newsstand coverlines are a tool that help us reach the maximum number of guys possible, on promises we know we’ll fulfill every issue. For many magazines, certain cover subjects — from lines to celebrities — are an important part of their newsstand branding. But for the 80 percent of readers who get our subscriber copies, the lines are totally different and reflect the breadth and depth of our reporting with the 12 million readers we serve each month. Rest assured — it’s this originality and reporting rigor that’s made us the biggest men’s magazine brand in the world.”

Yup, we’re convinced – we are, as we’ve been commanded, resting assured. But we’d also like to draw your attention to a cheeky comment made by US media Website Gawker, who suggest that creativity has never been Men’s Health strong suit: “There are, in fact, just four basic templates for a Men's Health cover,” Gawker observed. “Since 2007, Men's Health has led with ‘Flat-Belly Foods,’ ‘Get Back Into Shape,’ and ‘Lose Your Gut’ at least twice a year, and a ‘Six-Pack Abs’ at least once a year since 2005.”

So it’s obvious, then. Repetition is the point; kinda like a Buddhist mantra. Six-pack abs, six-pack abs, six-pack abs, six-pack abs, six-pa…

By Kevin Bloom

Read more: Gawker

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

  • Business

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