No one's slacking off for the summer over at FHM

campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 02 September 2004 12:00AM

An idle contact of mine suggested last week that Campaign should take it easy during August. 'Sit back, do 'Campaign in Shorts' and go home early,' was the gist of what he said, albeit in slightly riper language, writes Ian Darby.

I suggested to him that this is not the way that wins. "When the stories dry up like an Iraqi oil-well, we Campaign staffers are more likely to don our flak jackets, Rageh Omaar-style, and get stuck in, than recline with a Campari and soda," I exaggerated pompously.

But, during one of my regular stretches for the Martini bottle last weekend, something work-related managed to attract my eye. The cover of the arch lads' mag FHM. Not my usual fireside read but then who could resist the coverline: "What gets girls hot?"

Until last month, FHM was officially the best-selling monthly magazine in the UK. But now, thanks to the runaway success of Glamour, it no longer occupies the coveted top slot.

FHM has just appointed a new editor. Ross Brown, who was previously its features editor, has replaced David Davies, a very successful editor who had two stints in the chair. Before promoting Brown, the magazine underwent a redesign and Brown was part of the team that worked on this.

The Emap magazine is an outstanding success story. Despite a recent sales decline of 4.5% to 573,713 copies (not bad in light of the men's weeklies entering the market), it's still the leader in the men's market by a country mile. It might be some way off its 1999 peak of 775,000 copies but sales have stabilised at close to 600,000.

Even its rivals sing its praises. Tim Brooks, the managing director of IPC Ignite!, which publishes Loaded, says: "Hats off to FHM. The two most consistent magazines in the men's market have been FHM and GQ. GQ is managed for advertisers and FHM for readers; the fact that they remain leaders in their areas is testament to their consistency."

Emap deserves praise for this consistency. During its lifetime, FHM has had just five editors; compare this with twice as many at Loaded. Even the latest redesign doesn't toy overly with its successful formula and Brown shouldn't have too many sleepless nights inventing more radical changes. FHM uses a different model to the "editor is the star" system that Loaded, once the home of James Brown, is so fond of.

Before I return to the Martinis, I must mention Maxim. Under its new editor, Greg Gutfeld, definitely a "star" editor, it is indeed "94% funnier than every other magazine" as its coverline suggests. But the sort of quirky humour it is introducing also suggests that it might appeal to a smaller audience. Gutfeld is one journalist who hasn't had his feet up this last month.

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum here.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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