Swag Mag: What’s your favorite place on Earth?Shannon Dunn: In my head. I can go there anywhere, anytime. I hate airplanes pulling billboards behind them. You can’t even sit on the beach without commercials. What does that one say? “Thank you Will Mar.” What does that mean? Will Mar must have got some action.¿Reprinted from the Shannon Dunn article in the ’94¿95 Swag Mag.
Catalzines, ‘zines, catalogzines, mags, rags¿they are the latest marketing tool for both manufacturers and shops. Thin magazines in black-and-white photocopied form or professionally bound with four colors filled with interviews, shots of team riders, and products.
Each has a different approach, but the goal is the same¿promoting product. “I thought a magazine format instead of a catalog would be a good idea,” says Roger Sgarbossa, owner of Swag. “We include a Swag Mag in every shipment. It works as a great point of purchase. Anytime you give something away for free, it helps sales.
While some of these ‘zines are published as catalogs with articles, others like Rusty’s R.age follow more of a magazine format without the product advertisement.
“R.age is funded by Rusty, but it’s not a blatant advertisement,” says Gabe Sullivan, communications manager for Rusty. “The idea is to have an outlet for Rusty team riders, but also to highlight the sport and the people involved with it.”
While being a large investment up front, the rewards of a ‘zine are just as great, if not greater than an ad, says Sgarbossa. He says Swag Mag is always in high demand long after they run out.
“Last time we printed about 15,000 and half went to Japan the other half went out with national shipments. It really helps get your name out there. You can either have 26 pages of a color magazine with your product and name all over it, or one ad in a magazine where there are hundreds of other ads.”
Manufacturers aren’t the only people printing magazines. Mikke Pierson, owner of ZJ Boarding House in Santa Monica, says their magazine has grown into a fourteen-page, color-cover magazine after only five issues.
“It’s the best source of advertising,” says Pierson. “We know this because not only has our mailing list grown from 400 to 3,000, but our busiest day of the year is our sale day, which we only advertise in the ‘zine.”
Pierson is also quick to add jokingly, “Don’t tell anyone. It’s a great idea and we want to have the only one.”
Chances are ZJ Boarding House won’t have the only retailer’s magazine this season. In fact, they and other mags, will probably have a lot of competition. As long as the benefits of the magazine outweigh production costs and actual time spent on writing and designing, there’s every reason to expect more retailers and manufacturers to join in.
And as Sullivan says: “As long as it R.age stays pure, and is a good, interesting magazine, we might as well print it. Kids like it.”