Esquire Brings Back Satirical Magazine SPY to Make You Laugh, Not Cry, Over the Election

Online publication will run for 4 weeks

Headshot of Sami Main

Does this election feel different to you?

Newspapers are trying to get ahead of this intense cycle with early endorsements. Presidential campaigns are embracing #TBT photos. Not to mention the kinds of stories eagle-eyed political reporters keep uncovering, from CNN Politics team's Playboy discovery to The Washington Post's continual dive into the annals of Donald Trump's lewd talk and charity missteps.

Society might need a little more satirical fun with "the withdrawal of Stewart and Colbert from Comedy Central, the death of Gawker, the return of Hillary, and especially the rise of Donald Trump," wrote Spy co-founder Kurt Andersen in the return of the publication.

Spy magazine, which originally launched 30 years ago, may have even created the tiny hand rhetoric that now follows Trump by calling him a "short-fingered vulgarian." They also branded Hillary Clinton as the "first dominatrix of the White House." 

"It's as if Spy, a retired superhero, is making a brief, but necessary comeback," Andersen said in Esquire's press release about the return. The online publication will only run until Election Day.

Richard Turley

The project's return is led by Esquire's editor-in-chief, Jay Fielden, with counsel from Andersen and Joanna Coles, who is Hearst Magazines chief content officer. Josh Wolk, who was previously the editorial director for Vulture as well as the editor of Yahoo Entertainment, will be one of the main editors of the pop-up with Michael Mraz, the director of content for Hearst Men's Group.

J.R. Havlan and Gabriel Snyder also make up some of the writing team, each with years of experience writing for places like The Daily Show, Gawker, The Atlantic and more.

Today, every article also includes a huge banner "ad" for Vulgicene, a fictional medication which encourages people to "stop living with tiny hands" and leads to a site which lists the unfortunate side effects of the fake drug. This is part of a daily ad concept rotation, designed by Wieden+Kennedy under the direction of Richard Turley.

"It's a rare treat to see something like this," said Mraz. Turley also designed the "It came from the locker room!" cover for Spy's return. 

"With 28 days until the election, the timing was perfect," said Mraz, who mentioned that the original notion to bring Spy back in 2009 just wouldn't have worked. "Jon Stewart was killing it, Gawker was Gawker, and Donald Trump wasn't running for president."

Esquire is able to pull off this pop-up thanks to its "tremendous momentum and growth," with Mraz citing 11.3 million unique users to the site in August according to comScore. That's up 86 percent from August 2015.

Is this heavy dose of satire just what the country needs?

"It's really just to make us laugh instead of cry."

@samimain Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.