John Romano, president of SLG Media Inc., heads up one of the oldest, largest, and most trusted media buying firms in the industry. He notes SLG "caters to both adult and non-adult businesses, as well as major national advertising. We're a full-service agency, a total turnkey solution for advertising.
"SLG is and always has been a media buying company," Romano adds. "We started out in 1972, placing advertising. The industry has morphed, and we have changed according to the demands of the industry."
This, of course, refers to the pendulum-swing conversions in the political climate over the last 20 years, not to mention that little innovation known as the World Wide Web. But Romano takes the curve balls as they come. Change is a continuum, he observes. "The changes have taken on different shapes over the years. It used to be that before the existence of the Internet and audiotext and things like that, there was just your basic direct-response mail order advertising. It was very lucrative; it still is."
It is never a good idea, however, to focus on one aspect of a market at the expense of everything else. SLG Media Inc. incorporates a wide array of services and clients. "We don't only do adult advertising," Romano adds. "We cater to the entire advertising industry. We have national accounts as well. We've handled liquor and electronics - you name it - over the years."
What distinguishes SLG, Romano says, is "We have direct deals with publishers we've established throughout our existence; we provide a service to the advertiser, bringing one centrally located company that can deliver advertising to them at a discount."
In other words, an advertiser going through SLG could purchase advertising space in as many magazines at once as would be effectual for them. "You can see our available media list is huge," Romano points out, referring to a sample list included in the company's media kit. More than 200 titles are available in straight, gay, fitness, tabloid, and other categories. It grows and changes daily.
"There are other agencies in the adult industry [that provide similar services]; we're the oldest and best established. Other agencies have come from the audiotext industry, started their agencies from other areas. We're probably the only true blue media buying agency out there."
Another way that SLG differentiates itself from the competition is through a hands-on involvement of every aspect of print media advertising.
"We can provide insight into these publications," Romano says. "If you're looking at an expensive list [of represented magazine titles], it's really hard for someone coming in to digest that information, understand what's going on, and where they should advertise to best suit their needs. We've worked directly and very closely with all the publishers, and with their circulation and production departments. Therefore, we can offer more than just ad space; we can get positioning, and there have been cases where we've gotten editorial tie-ins with magazines, and promotional links."
It takes more than 30 employees, and Romano assures they "get the job done."
SLG does have a Web presence, with an adult-exclusive site under construction. "All of the media information will be available on the Web. In the coming months, there will be a resource center people can access."
With regard to the print death knell that some are wont to sound, Romano is pragmatic. SLG has branched out into the ether: "We do get into providing traffic to Websites and emailing solutions and such," but the company's success is grounded on print.
"I don't believe magazines are ever going to go away," Romano says. "You know what it is? No matter what industry you go to - will the Internet get rid of the department store? No. Will the Internet get rid of the grocery store, a restaurant? You can order clothes, you can order food, you can order dinner. But people still want to smell, they still want to see, feel, touch. It's the same thing with magazines. You know, the Internet was supposed to do away with the audiotext industry. But it didn't. It was supposed to kill the adult video industry. It didn't."
The trend of nicheing is something that Romano is very aware of, and part of what helps SLG flourish. However, the company's been around long enough to know how to weather the bell curve of popularity. "In my over 20 years in the industry, I've seen different fetishes become trendy. But that leaves you to wonder: That guy who loves legs and feet (because at one time, my God, leg magazines were popping out of the woodwork!)... where did he go? Did he become a Barely Legal reader? Or does he now like legs and feet and young models? Or is he suddenly into B/D-S/M, but now he doesn't like legs and feet?
"You know what it is?" Romano says of the adult industry. "Sex is a funny thing. It intrigues people. If you talk to someone who has been brought up in a very sheltered environment, not exposed to anything like [fetishes or adult publications], that person would be appalled at discussion of it openly; but if they got an opportunity to discuss it, they would be totally engulfed."
He expounds with an anecdote. "I was out to dinner, and you don't usually get into the subject of sex ads over the dinner table. This one person, very proper, sheltered, whatever, found out I was in the advertising business. She kept prodding and prodding and prodding; when she finally found out the extent of what it is I do every day, rather than being turned off, she lit up like a Christmas tree. 'Oh my God! You have naked girls running around your office?' 'No, no, no.' 'Do you take the pictures?' 'No, I don't.' We're an ad agency. If you'd like to place an ad, we're your [entity]."
The common misconceptions about the industry in general leave Romano shaking his head, along with all the other business professionals who have to face this kind of ignorance day to day. "People think because you place ads in an adult magazine there are women running around here with whips," Romano laughs. "We have an accounting department. We do corporate tax returns. It is a business. We take Visa, MasterCard, American Express.
"I don't think people give the adult industry the recognition it deserves. I mean, there are some people who are in it just to be around the element." But other people are in it because they have families to support. "Exactly."
Romano believes SLG's investment in being involved in every aspect of production work and advertising is what contributes to its success. Being exclusive reps for several magazines, including the Score group and Virgins, demonstrates their long-standing reputation. Most of all, particular attention to each specific client is what sets SLG Media, Inc. apart.
"We get very much involved, and we accommodate client media needs," Romano says.
You can reach SLG Media by phone at 203.622.4448; by fax at 203.622.4779; or via email at [email protected].