SEEKING AN EVERYMAN: Men’s Health is taking a brief hiatus from male models, celebrities and chiseled athletes on its cover. In a first for the U.S. edition, the title is gearing up to feature a mere mortal on the cover of its November issue. The lucky man will be weeded out by a search committee and then handpicked by a small panel of judges that will include editor in chief Bill Phillips and designer Kenneth Cole.

This story first appeared in the March 6, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Cole’s company is sponsoring the contest, which will kick off the April launch of its newest fragrance, Mankind.

According to Men’s Health, the contest is a first for the U.S. edition, but not for its international ones. Generally, the magazine looks for a man it deems representative of the publication’s values — and that doesn’t necessarily translate to having a ripped six pack, but it wouldn’t hurt.

“We pride ourselves at being accessible,” publisher Ronan Gardiner offered.

Dubbed the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy, the average Joe-turned-cover model will be unearthed from a nationwide contest that begins Tuesday. Aspiring models can submit their entries on or they can present themselves in person at Macy’s flagships in New York City’s Herald Square and Los Angeles’ Glendale Galleria on April 12. Subsequent auditions will take place in Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, Miami, San Francisco and Boston. In July, the top three finalists will be flown to New York for a cover shoot and to make their final pitch for the gig.

“We don’t know how readers are going to react to this on the newsstand,” said Phillips. “Celebrities and athletes work for us, but I’ve said this before, celebrities’ projects don’t matter to the reader, it’s their stories. Whether the issue sells or not is not quite relevant.”

That last point is debatable.

Although the magazine’s total paid and verified subscriptions equaled 1.5 million in 2013, it registered single-copy sales of 375,111, a 33.2 percent decline from 2009, when single-copy sales totaled 471,083, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. So perhaps Men’s Health is hoping Everyman outsells Hugh Jackman on the newsstand.

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