Dorado Aims For Magazine And Web Gold
Doug Bennett is one of the least likely publishers one would expect to launch a new print magazine.
As the executive behind the OC Register’s pioneering tablet app The Peel, Bennett was one of the newspaper industry’s earliest money-where-the-mouth is advocates for mobile content and online videos. Since taking the reins as CEO of Ballantine Communications in Durango, Colo., he has made a video site, 4CornersTV.com, one of his centerpiece objectives for courting and keeping millennial viewers.
So given the endlessly grim news about print’s future, why is he now launching a luxury lifestyle magazine, Dorado, geared at lovers of the Southwest?
Bennett says luxury magazines are still a bright star in the magazine space, outperforming other magazine categories among new launches in the past two years.
And with Dorado, he’s benchmarking off one magazine in particular – Garden & Gun – which has hit over 300,000 circulation and won a rare, equally-distributed male/female audience with its eclectic editorial coverage of everything from couture fashion to hunting, all with a uniquely sumptuous visual aesthetic and literary flavor.
“It’s a wonderful magazine that’s been incredibly successful,” Bennett says, noting that he’s aiming for the same gender split with his readers.
Dorado will launch in newsstands on May 1st with a 50,000 circulation, and its distribution will be initially focused in the “Texas triangle” of Austin-Dallas-Houston. Bennett says the view is then to roll out to Arizona and Southern California, then select other markets like Chicago with enough affluent readers with a yen for the Southwest and its mountains, biking, fishing and rafting.
“They sit at their desks in Austin, Houston or Chicago, and they believe this is the place they can’t wait to get to,” Bennett says. “We want to give them an outlet to feel like they’ve been there or they’re going to be there soon.”
Dorado’s initial advertisers are largely high end, second home real estate agents, posh hotels and restaurants and purveyors of luxury Southwest gear. Most ad sales are bundled with digital, and beyond those ad sales, Bennett sees future revenue opportunities with niche apps spinning off some of the magazine’s coverage areas.
There also video ad opportunities, too, and the site will feature numerous videos currently being produced by 4CornersTV. Bennett also foresees an events business spinning off of his existing 4Corners Events, which already produces 15 events a year for the company.
Bennett doesn’t have illusions that he’ll come tearing out of the gate into profitability. “We believe that we’re going to have to spend at least the first two years driving subscriptions as well as advertising,” he says, and the break-even point won’t come until at least then. He also sees 20-30% of Dorado’s revenue coming from digital within the first two years, and says the site will be updated daily with new content to drive that.
Dorado’s creative team will be led by Editorial Director Jeff Ficker, who was managing editor of The Ritz-Carlton Magazine and Desert Living, along with being a contributing editor to Travel + Leisure. Creative Director Caroline Crafton has worked with Vogue, Vanity Fair, InStyle and People.
Their remit, focused as much on Dorado’s glossy monthly pages as its website, will be to vicariously capture the Southwest’s spirit for those well-heeled daydreamers biding time until their next trip. Or, as Bennett says, “giving a daily dose of content to people who have aspirations to be part of the Southwest life.”