Media: Double Standards - How women's magazines stay ahead of the curve

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 02 October 2009 12:00AM

In the crowded arena of women's magazines, titles such as Grazia and The Sunday Times Style are innovating in an effort to keep readers and brands interested.

JANE BRUTON - EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GRAZIA

- How do you make your title stand out?

One word: new. We are always looking for the next big thing, a different way of presenting a story, the new must-read regular. We never play it safe. And, because we are weekly, we can react or innovate quickly. This unique formula has ensured that Grazia continues to outperform the glossy market.

- What are the biggest challenges facing the women's magazine market?

You can never be complacent. There is so much media now that your product has to stand out. The current economic climate is clearly a challenge for the women's magazine market. However, Grazia's weekly frequency ensures that we are at the heart of retail by driving fashion-obsessed women directly into stores; we balance this speed with beautiful design, fabulous fashion shoots and a unique tone of voice. The power of the Grazia brand is evident every week when we are inundated with stories of the "Grazia effect" - where products from designer handbags to gorgeous high-street tops have flown from the shelves.

- How have you adapted your magazine to survive the advertising slump?

We have been lucky at Grazia. Because the magazine has a unique weekly readership and premium ads, we appear to be even more valuable to advertisers. Grazia uniquely provides our clients with footfall-driving mechanics and a premium branding environment. Accordingly, we now carry more advertising than any other glossy magazine. Basically, designers know that if something appears in our magazine, it sells.

- What's the secret to being a great editor?

You have to be genuinely excited about your magazine; otherwise, how can you expect potential readers to be? You must understand your reader to create a product that can inspire and inform. You also have to be confident about your magazine and staff and believe in your instincts so you can take risks. Not all risks work, but an editor who doesn't take risks will end up with a product that stands still and churns out the same stuff day in, day out - boring the staff and turning off readers.

- What exciting commercial deals have you coming up?

We have been working on a number of exciting deals with our clients over the autumn season, but we are particularly excited about our partnership with the retail legend George Davies. We have done an exclusive deal with him to launch his new retail project, GIVe, which includes a 24-page supplement, an exclusive e-zine and in-store activity.

- Who is your ideal cover star and why?

That is an irrelevant question these days. It used to be that all women's mags had an ideal cover star, someone they believed embodied the title. But as news happens so quickly now, and as all titles, from upmarket glossies to tabloid newspaper supplements, have come to realise that celebrity sells, the ideal cover star is the celebrity who has the most compulsive story for that publication.

- What are the hottest fashion items this season?

A black leather jacket (skinny shaped, biker in style), a pair of tight "rock chick" trousers (could be leather leggings), high-heeled ankle boots and shoulder pads.

TIFFANIE DARKE - EDITOR, STYLE, THE SUNDAY TIMES

- How do you make your title stand out?

We're a weekly news magazine with the creative values of a monthly glossy and a readership of more than three million, which is pretty unique. This allows us to be newsy and reactive, while presenting ourselves creatively. In the past month, we have used Julie Burchill and Joan Collins as writers, and David Bailey and Vanina Sorrenti as photographers. Our readership, which ranges from teens to sixtysomethings, is sophisticated, clever and hugely demanding, so content needs to constantly surprise. Finally, there's our timing - Sundays are when you can sit down, relax and take time over your reading.

- What are the biggest challenges facing the women's magazine market?

Not to be boring. Lots of magazines work "by numbers". Celebrity: check; real life: check; dressing your bodyshape: check; diet: check. It has turned off a lot of readers, who have stopped buying magazines. The desire and the resolve to be adventurous, surprising, irreverent and funny are sadly lacking.

- How have you adapted your magazine to survive the advertising slump?

We have redesigned the magazine, which has been supported by cinema and TV ads and a huge marketing drive. We have also continued to support new talent drives such as Fashion Fringe, and reader events such as Colin McDowell's designer interviews; the last Christopher Bailey interview sold out in a day. It's important not to let the readers feel the slump.

- What's the secret to being a great editor?

Hiring excellent staff and making sure they are all passionate about their jobs. And, of course, being passionate about yours.

- What exciting commercial deals have you coming up?

We continue our relationship with Ralph Lauren, Prada, D&G, Armani, DKNY and Mulberry through October and November, and have another special issue coming out at the end of November, which has attracted luxury brands from Krug to Cartier. We are also carrying Liberty, Selfridges and Harrods catalogues in November issues.

- Who is your ideal cover star and why?

Beth Ditto, because she challenges everyone's perceptions of what a cover star is. And Gisele, because she confirms them all - super-glamorous, super-aspirational.

- What are the hottest fashion items this season?

Christopher Kane's range for Topshop, Isabel Marant's incredibly wearable and hard-to-source collection and anything of Jonathan Kels'.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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