Has the CEO of the number-one social network in the land got Bieber-Fever? Does Facebook want to increase their user base by riding the coat-tails of the pop-star du jour? Highly unlikely. But what does tie Zuckerberg to Justin Bieber is a 59-year old legacy magazine struggling to keep its circulation numbers afloat.
In this current era of digital communication, the print medium continues to struggle to maintain readership which has resulted in hundreds of newspapers closings throughout the US. Mad Magazine, the comic book that became the leading cultural hit of the twentieth century is no exception. Widely imitated, it not only became the golden standard for the faux-news media outlets such as The Onion and even Jon Stewart's Daily Show to follow, it also made making fun of political figures and celebrities an acceptable form of entertainment.
Alfred E. Neuman, the magazine's poster child and his signature line: "What, me Worry" became a catch phrase for generations. As mascot, his face often morphed into both fictional and real-life characters. From Santa Claus to Darth Vadar to George W. Bush, Neuman kept us coming back for more.
However, while circulation numbers peaked at 2.1 million in 1974, they dwindled significantly to an all-time low of 148,104 in 2009. This past year, it bounced back slightly with a tally of 188,825 readers. While not a big boost percentage-wise, it does indicate that Mad Magazine is looking to reclaim some of its past glory to gain a foothold in the zeitgeist of the 21st Century.
And while Mr. Zuckerberg certainly doesn't need the added assist from Justin Bieber, Mad Magazine was counting on leveraging his star-power to boost their readership when they put him on the cover of its February, 2011 issue. That's right - Alfred E. Neuman morphed once again - and this time the Bieber 's shag haircut actually covered two of his signature features - his laughing eyes and "Dumbo" ears.
To keep the momentum going, Mad's editors focused on one of today's leading tech innovators for its follow-up issue. Fresh off a award-winning movie, a graphic novel and honored as Time Magazine's Person of the Year, Mark Zuckerberg is one of the first celebs not to morph into Neuman but to actually grace the cover with him.
Due out on newsstands in late April, cover-boy Zuckerberg will also take his 'lickins' inside the issue, when he is lampooned in a piece, titled, "The 50 Worst Things About Facebook."
When Mad's editor John Ficarra was asked "why Zuckerberg?" he responded satirically to TechCrunch saying that "it was a pure business decision - we got a cool $2 mil from the Winklevoss twins to 'poke' him a new one."
Mad Magazine isn't the first to lampoon the founder of Facebook. Facebucks & Dumb F*cks, a graphic novel satire takes Zuckerberg (aka Z-Man) to task regarding not only the origins of Facebook (aka Facebucks) but where the social network is heading in the decade to come. And while it's clear Mark Zuckerberg doesn't have a "man crush" on Justin Bieber, such wasn't the case when he met Sean Parker (aka VC-Man) for the first time.
Page from Facebucks & Dumb F*cks graphic novel