HEADLINER: Quick in no rush to get Frank into commercial mainstream - Harriet Quick seems ideal to turn round the women’s title, Richard Cook reports

By RICHARD COOK, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 07 August 1998 12:00AM

There’s no doubt that the elegantly presented Harriet Quick looks just like we think the editor of a stylish women’s magazine should. And, sitting in her new, as yet unfurnished, corner office surrounded by the expensive flowers sent by well-wishers, there’s also no doubt that Harriet Quick sounds like we think an the editor of a stylish women’s magazine should.

There’s no doubt that the elegantly presented Harriet Quick looks

just like we think the editor of a stylish women’s magazine should. And,

sitting in her new, as yet unfurnished, corner office surrounded by the

expensive flowers sent by well-wishers, there’s also no doubt that

Harriet Quick sounds like we think an the editor of a stylish women’s

magazine should.



’Having been here right from the beginning,’ she gushes, ’the fact is

that I just love working on the magazine and I love Frank, what Frank is

and what it will be in the future. And that’s why I wanted the

opportunity to be editor.’



But then this is Wagadon and appearances here - as elsewhere in the

magazine publishing world - can be deceptive. It’s hard to think, for

instance, of a publishing house that appeared better equipped to break

the mould of women’s magazines. The family-run concern changed British

publishing history with the launch of the Face and Arena, and there was

a groundswell of collective good will as well as considerable excitement

when it launched Frank. The magazine finally appeared last October as a

title for the independent, intelligent, opinionated women of 25 to 35

and beyond.



The first edition sold more than 120,000 copies, suggesting that these

independent, intelligent, opinionated women represented a sizeable

market opportunity. Unfortunately, having tried the new title, these

same readers were quick to form the opinion that they didn’t really like

it. In fact, the title that Quick, the launch features editor, has

inherited is set to post a desperately disappointing first ABC of 40,000

to 50,000 copies when it reports next week.



It’s been more than two months now since the launch editor, Tina

Gaudoin, resigned, falling on her sword with the now traditional plea of

wanting to spend more time with her family. And as the days following

her departure became weeks then months, the publishing rumour mill went

into overtime.



No-one wanted the job, it was said. Frank, the experts reckoned, was

unsalvageable.



’Nonsense,’ says Quick. ’When Tina resigned there was a hell of a lot of

interest and not just from London but from New York and Hong Kong and

all over. The fact is it just took ages to work through all the

applications.’



Certainly, if that really is the case, the publisher has shown a

commendable degree of confidence and loyalty to the magazine by opting

for an internal appointment as editor. But then that type of loyalty and

team work is a genuine Wagadon trait. Quick will be working on the new

direction for Frank with Richard Benson, the former editor of the Face

and now Wagadon’s editor-in-chief.



’We’re not really about making drastic changes and relaunches,’ Quick

says. ’I want to continue with what we set out to do. But I think with

the September issue there will be quite a notable change in the feel of

the magazine - the design is a lot more accessible. I think some of the

problems we had in the past stem from the fact that, although the

content was great, maybe it looked like it was trying too hard.’



It is also likely that the magazine will become a little less po-faced

and start to take itself a little less seriously. ’There’s room for all

sorts of different moods within a magazine,’ says Quick cautiously, ’Ed

Vulliamy wrote a piece for us about the Hague war crimes tribunal that

was full of real passion and insight, but you can’t force those sort of

stories. When they happen we’ll give all the room to them but that

doesn’t mean the whole magazine has to be like that. I particularly

liked a piece we did on rice cakes earlier this year, for instance. It

examined the phenomenon that is the rice cake, and why they have

suddenly become so popular with women when the facts are that they make

our breath smell like a two-day-old blow job.’



But then if this nice line in understated humour is a stock in trade of

the new editor, Quick also says there is further assistance on the way.

She hopes to have a modest promotional budget to help turn things

around. A promotional campaign with Comag and a small, as yet

unfinalised, campaign from the title’s launch agency, Rocket, represents

- at least in the Wagadon scheme of things - a considerable vote of

confidence.



’I think our other problem is that the magazine has been quite difficult

to advertise in, we haven’t carried half-page ads and we’ve put ads in

awkward places and I’m sure that needs to be discussed. But there’s no

timetable on me here. I haven’t been brought in to get the circulation

up to a certain figure in the next few months. We’ve got to get the look

right, make ourselves more accessible to advertisers and trust in

that.’



THE QUICK FILE

1990 Fashion Weekly, Emap Business, fashion editor

1992 Freelance writer, the Face and Arena

1994 The Guardian, fashion writer and stylist

1996 Daily Telegraph, fashion writer

1997 Frank, Wagadon, launch features editor

1998 Frank, Wagadon, editor



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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