In a world steeped in miserable estrogen, tampons, squalling babies, mascara and stilettos -- dominated by a blur of lactating breasts, mommy porn, hemlines, and feelings -- one man has had enough.
James Heckman, former head of global media strategy at Yahoo!, has launched Scout.com, an online portal dedicated to all things men. Boasting more than $100 million in assets and backed by media tycoon and MTV founder Robert Pittman, Scout.com is serving up a dick-laden haven featuring 300 sports, military and outdoor web entities, three television shows, 38 magazines, a "robust commerce enterprise" and 21 million customers.
Never one to shirk the spotlight or undersell his vision, Heckman believes he has built the "Yahoo! for men," offering up a one-stop shop for every facet of the male mind. Scout offers eight formal verticals -- NCAA, NFL, MLB, Fantasy, Warrior, Hunt, Fish and Build -- as well as seven additional "interests" including Military, Cook, Garden, Golf, High School, NBA and Tailgate. The concept is that anything an American man is looking for he can find in Scout.
When I was at Yahoo, I discovered that the big-scale male demographic sites, for the most part, were not befitting of major premium brands because men tend to gravitate to the lowest common denominator when it comes to concepts. So, looking at the media and content for women, there's lots of high-quality premium safe content for brands to associate with. But for men, there's a only handful at scale. That's where we want to play.
OK, first? Is anyone else kind of insulted by the notion that men "gravitate to the lowest common denominator" of concepts? This statement is both incredibly ambiguous yet oddly offensive, a rare feat indeed. Does Heckman mean porn? Sex advice? Style? Working out? Guns? I mean, it's easy as hell to be reductive and stereotyping when discussing gender -- girls are erratic and like pink, boys like breasts and grunting -- but it's certainly not useful in facilitating a conversation or explaining your vision for a new paradigm of content.
Heckman frames the entire premise of Scout as being built on the notion that the male experience is incredibly diverse -- and, of course, by capitalizing on underfed yet hungry markets. But by placing half the American population into this "poor guys don't know any better" camp, he makes every man seem a bit like a slavering idiot chomping away at fatty, meaningless content.
And if that's actually the case -- which I'm wont to heartily disagree with -- why on earth would Scout be able to alter those consumption habits? If Scout's content actually proffers "high quality premium" content... will any of those lowest common denominator lovers want to read it?
This reasoning smells fishy and fallacious.
Heckman also argues that women have a host of "high quality premium safe content" for humans and brands to get behind, but again, I'm not too sure that A) what sites he's casually referring to; and B) if there's any mega-aggregation site in existence that's attempting to do for women what Heckman plans on doing for men.
While Forbes did a a bang-up job of rounding up 100 sites dedicated to women, nowhere on there can you find a website offering the collective content of 300 sites gathered together for my vaginal-brain bliss. Everything is niche and subdivided, too -- fashion, fiction, tech, food, feminism. In order to slake the thirst of the average female mind, one has to check out 10 websites a day, toggling between tabs.
While I think Heckman might be a bit of a delusional megalomaniac and a strange breed of man-hater, I do think he's onto something. How amazing would it be to go to one place to learn about everything on God's green Internet that turns my gears as a 21st century woman?
Oh wait. Because then we'd have to include science and history and politics and horror films... all of which also belongs on Scout. I'm actually all for celebrating the differences in gender -- from our biochemistry to our bodies -- but this notion that one website could satiate every American man or women seems dangerously crude. Like cutting filet with a butter knife.