Cargo Drops Its Load

From the newly redesigned New York Times website:

The lesson to be learned from the death of Cargo is not that guys don’t like to shop, spend money or moisturize; or that Cargo was too gay or too straight; or that the cultural phenomenon of the metrosexual never really existed. The real culprit behind the decision last week to close Cargo, the men’s shopping magazine, would have to be the stickers.
In each issue for two years Cargo included a page of peel-off tabs marked Buy or Save, so readers could neatly note their potential purchases while thumbing through features on cellphones, flat-screen televisions and dark-wash jeans.
“I love shopping,” said Bart Ianantuoni, a Manhattan personnel executive who gave up on Cargo after reading a few issues because he was offended by the presentation. “Stickers? They’re treating men like teenage girls. I’m a guy. If I want something in a magazine and think I can’t remember it, I’m going to tear the page out.”
Jimmy Jellinek, editor in chief of Stuff, the schoolyard bully of shopping magazines, says shopping for men is about asserting status, but Cargo was lost in its enthusiasm to bring style to everyman. “They failed to realize how men shop,” Mr. Jellinek said. “You don’t buy a cellphone based on what it does for you as much as it matches your sneakers. Shopping is about using possessions as a means to augment your power.”

I believe the stickers or tabs, is a trying-too-hard motif which ends up skewing the very idea of a magazine away from content and towards a catalog of sponsors’ products.
Regarding Jellinek’s assertion that men shop to “augment their power,” I can’t think of a more obtuse declaration. Some puny girlie men may do so, but most men don’t think that deeply about such things. They simply respond to an object with a yeah or nay. That’ll work, or it won’t.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.