The new poker face

Oct 12, 2004 3:04 AM

Add another magazine cover for Ben Affleck. Only this time the cover is based on something other than Affleck’s personal life or upcoming movie. ALL IN, the world’s leading poker magazine, put Affleck on the cover of its most recent issue for his first place finish at the California State Championship.

Affleck is an iconic figure in the poker world primarily due to the glamour that he has brought to the game. The victory clearly established Affleck as the best player among the poker-playing Hollywood set that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Ed Norton, Tobey McGuire, and James Woods.

"Everyone knows about Ben Affleck’s commitment to the game of poker," said Bhu Srinivasan, publisher of ALL IN Magazine. "We wanted to be careful not to put him on the cover purely because of his celebrity, but when he won a major event, it became a no-brainer."

With amateur victories such as Affleck’s fueling poker’s ever-growing popularity, ALL IN Magazine has become one of the fastest growing magazines in the country. Over the past four months, subscriptions to ALL IN Magazine have grown by over 450 percent.

The growth of poker media isn’t limited to print alone; televised poker continues to draw the ratings usually reserved for major athletic events. ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC, Travel Channel, and Bravo all carry a variety of poker shows.

Estimates suggest that up to 50 million people watch or play poker in the United States alone. With an audience that size, marketers are paying close attention to the poker phenomenon to see if there are branding opportunities in poker.

"We were surprised at how receptive the advertising community was to an upscale poker magazine," said Srinivasan. "Advertisers are finding that ALL IN Magazine is a great way to capitalize on poker."

Brands that have made marketing investments in poker include Oakley, Belvedere Vodka, ESPN, Anheuser-Busch, Jim Beam Brands, Miramax, NBC, Discovery Networks, Diageo, Altadis, Toyota, Levitra, Samuel Adams, and Fairmont Hotels.

Several major advertisers in electronics, automotive, travel, and apparel are currently negotiating category exclusive deals with the publication as well major sponsorships with the television networks.