“MAG SPAM” – Why Can’t Residents in Wealthy Zip Codes Quickly Eradicate It?

Mag Spam

If you reside in the tra-la-la lovely North Shore, it’s understandable why magazine publishers and other media outlets covet your luscious eyeballs, rapt attention and chubby wallet.  But I think I’m like most people that don’t appreciate anything being shoved down the throat – even if it’s free.*  In my opinion, this is what local publications like Sheridan Road, Modern Luxury CS and even happy, cutesy Make It Better do.  When I lived in Idaho, I never got complimentary monthly issues of Guns & Ammo or Potato Weekly.  :-(

How hard can it be for a circulation director to ask residents before they force-feed them an over-sized, keen sheen glossy, shrink-wrapped mockery of all environmental efforts to conserve natural resources?  Did I just say “conserve?”  As in “reduce, reuse, recycle?”  HA!  These shiny rags aren’t published by the fruit flake folks over @ Mother Earth News….these bi/monthlies want North Shore residents to SPEND, baby!   It’s the clear opposite of conservation, it’s all about CONSUMPTION!

Yes, we’re all consumers.  And we in the North Shore are some of the best of the best (or worst of the worst, depending on how you look @ it).  To me, there are zilcho-o ads in these freebie* mags that qualify as a basic staple or “need to have” items.   I can’t even comprehend most as even being “want to haves.”  No one in our HH has a burning itch for a private jet timeshare, seasonal storage for a sable or the opportunity to enter Modern Luxury CS’s “Modern/Makeover” contest that promised every human “necessity” that could help us reach perfection – a fitness coach, style consultant, cosmetic dentistry, hairstylist and…..wait for it – our own plastic surgeon!! (this recent feature crossed so many guidelines of the editorial/advertising church/state journalism 101 rules & ethic, I can’t even go there.). 

Clearly, I have environmental issues with the business practice of scattercast circulation.  And I groan about the crass “diamonds, gowns & furs” mentality these monthlies promote.  But I also have one more reason: There are lots of advertisers that are paying big, big bucks for “guaranteed?” rate bases that are clearly questionable and CPM (cost-per-thousand) that is outrageously high.   If I was spending that kind of money to promote a product (upscale, downscale, super-mega upscale or whatever!) I would want to know:

(1) is the rate base of this magazine 3rd party audited?

(2) where do they get their demographic stats?  Solely in-house?   

(3) what percentage of recipients actually PAY for the magazines and what percentage get it whether they want it or not (i.e. = total waste). 

It’s not as simple as:  zip code 60093 = BIG trendy spenders that want to buy chic goodies and also be seen in a charity ball photo (reminiscent of Greek “PartyPics” of college days).  There are aspirational OVER spenders in every area code.   And there are 60093 folks that don’t give a rat dropping about Chalk’s latest smock or the prep school of the month.  My point is this -- not every North Shore resident fits the consumer demographic these magazines seem to be selling to their advertisers.  

None of this would have bothered me enough to write this woe-is-me-for-living-in-Winnetka ( ;-)) blog if it had been as easy as making 1 phone call or e-mail to get removed from the mass/USPS spam lists of these magazines.   He's my skinny:

  • Quintessential New Trier and Make it Better were responsive and took care of my request in less than one month.  One call, no more issues.  Thank you!!   
  • Sheridan Road, took over one year.  And multiple e-mail, phone requests.  I was directly told, “If I don’t want our magazine, and want to recycle it, it’s up to you to bring it to the library or a senior citizens center.”  Right – like those that don’t get their books on Kindle & elders in the needing-of-assistance years are the Sheridan Road demographic base!?!  
  • Modern Luxury CS employees promised to remove our address months ago, but it still lands on our doorstep.

My requests to these publishers:

  • Don’t send anything, unless the resident has requested it.   (Ok, maybe tempt your selectively-targeted folks with 1-2 free samples, but anything after that is just spam/garbage/landfill).
  • Don’t charge some people to subscribe, when the vast majority get it for free
  • Don’t make it crazy hard to NOT receive the magazine after 1 request.


Do you live in the NS too and feel like these publishers are actually doing you a service by providing these magazines for free*?

Do you live in the NS but don’t get these free* magazines I mentioned?  Am curious about that b/c it begs the question…where do they draw the line of “affluence” and a “desirable target audience.” 

Do you think I’m just being absurd…..I mean after all I’m complaining about living in an “ad-targeted” location.  Maybe I should be thankful and just shut up and take the “bonus” magazines that come with my address.

-      Jennifer McQuet

* If someone is in the market for a boob job or the latest Jaquar, I’d think they could opt-in and pony up the $ for their a full-priced subscription.  They don’t need FREE.  And then wouldn’t that be a much more “true” representation of the readership that these magazines could sell to their advertisers?   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Marie February 26, 2013 at 02:37 PM
I get the same free mags that you get, and they go right in the recycling bin. There is nothing in these publication that appeals or speaks to me. I don't need to see pages upon pages of people dressed up at fundraisers, or ads for plastic surgeons, or yet another ad for a landscaping company or kitchen remodel joint. I do keep Make It Better because I like the *idea* of that publication, but I rarely gain anything from reading it. So, to answer your questions - I live here, the mags serve no purpose in my life, and I wish they'd stop sending them. Here's a question of my own: why do we need *so many* of these publications? There must be six publications for the North Shore. Why?


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