Professional Opinions from the High and Mighty: Esquire Editor in Chief, David Granger

I have such a different view as I look out my window.  I’ve traded my Chicago highrise scene featuring a view of Lake Michigan to look out over a patio a few floors below, surrounded by brick buildings and some tall glass structure.   That’s right, I’m in NYC!  Which is great overall, the kicker – I’m in a dorm.  Talk about digressing, I’m back to having a roommate (like in my bedroom, not sharing an apartment with my best friends), no real dishes and one bathroom for four girls.  All for a worthwhile cause though, as I live through these small indignities for the greater good of publishing (presumptuous, maybe)!

David Granger, EsquireSo today was my first (12-hour) day as a student once again, and I admit to being pleasantly surprised.  Our first assignment was to read “Esquire” magazine and purvey the website in preparation for to hear David Granger, Editor-in-Chief, speak about the State of the Magazine.  After searching for Esquire in a Chicago CVS, again at two magazine gift shops in the airport, a newsstand in NYC and a Duane Reade (apparently the NYC version of CVS) I was frustrated and not at all dazzled with the availability of the title.  Luckily a roommate (one of three in my “suite”) had been able to purchase it, so I was prepared, if not impressed.

…Then Mr. David Granger started to speak.  On the 12th anniversary to the day of his position as EIC at Esquire, he shared with my fellow NYU peers and me his successes as well as the reality of the media business.   When he boarded the figurative ship that was Esquire in 1997, the brand was about to sink.  Under Granger’s leadership, he has led the magazine to multiple awards, accolades, and the most successful fundraiser in UNICEF’s history.

“After nine years {as EIC}, I was fed up with Esquire still just being a magazine.”  -David Granger

Instead of letting his magazine slide into stagnation, Granger pulled his team together and brainstormed, to figure out what they could change.  Instead of seeing print as an old/outdated medium, he views print as old because “it’s really fucking good.” Choosing to use the website as a vehicle to drive people to the print edition, Granger makes Esquire a wanted commodity through innovative designs (including a table of contents that turns a boring list into an art form), genius covers copied by many, and content he believes to be funny, passionate and inclusive.

Though he admits to despair and desperation as being his “friends” at the office, Granger sees massive opportunities in the media landscape, though with less money to spend.  Esquire celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, and I have the utmost confidence Granger will continue to take Esquire on its trajectory of success.  I’m going to help in my own way by (Dad, spoiler alert, getting my father a gift subscription for Father’s Day)  Similar to Obama, featured on two covers, Granger takes a “We Can” attitude to the future.

Insight from David Granger:

  • Cigarettes are the greatest prop in history
  • “Tap Project” is Esquire‘s greatest achievement
  • Men love sandwiches

Thank you, Mr. Granger, for taking time out of your obviously very busy and successful life (not to mention the day after bad sushi) to share your knowledge.

Also thanks to the panelists in the later panel on “Magazines as Brands: The New Reality”:

  • Cyndi Stivers, Editor, EW.com: Great moderator, innovative website with minimal costs
  • Liz Vaccariello, EIC, Prevention: Your case study on the “Flat Belly Diet” was interesting and an obvious success.  I wonder if everyone at Prevention is in such good shape!
  • Marvin Scott Jarrett, EIC, Nylon: Not a very energetic speaker and quite cocky, but forgivable since obviously so talented.  Started Nylon 10 years ago, and is now partnering with iconic brands like Apple and Nike.  Not exactly anti-society, but anti-convention.
  • Paul Maidment, EIC, Forbes: Loved the British accent and was pleasantly surprised by his ability to joke, though it was hard to understand him at times.  More dry content, but do understand that he knows his target well and Forbes makes them smarter and richer!
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