HEADLINER: Red launch puts Emap Elan’s director in mood for combat - Sue Hawken is ready to hit people who sniff at Elan’s new title

’I hate criticism - I feel like punching people.’ This is certainly a woman who doesn’t mince her words. But I’m slightly taken aback by the forceful language issuing from the lips of the seemingly mild-mannered Sue Hawken, managing director of Emap Elan.

’I hate criticism - I feel like punching people.’ This is certainly

a woman who doesn’t mince her words. But I’m slightly taken aback by the

forceful language issuing from the lips of the seemingly mild-mannered

Sue Hawken, managing director of Emap Elan.

This is how she feels when people find fault with her latest launch,

Red, which arrived on newsstands last week. For more than two years,

Emap Elan has nurtured Red, a glossy monthly aimed at women in their

’middle youth’ with a more mature, intellectual outlook. The main

criticism levelled against Red is that its front cover is insipid.

Flushing slightly, Hawken checks herself, before continuing: ’From a

balanced point of view, you don’t design a cover for the industry, you

do it for newsagents. I hear what people are saying and I don’t think

they are entirely wrong, but I do think it stands out.’

Red is just one of many launches Hawken has been involved in at Emap,

but it is one which she seems particularly passionate about. ’When you

look at this company there are a lot of Red readers. I’ve never worked

on a launch where people feel so strongly about it.’ She also believes

Red will energise an increasingly turgid market. ’The women’s glossy

market is a fantastic market, but nobody has launched into it in a big

way for ten years. IPC and the National Magazine Company need to launch.

There are women’s magazines that don’t deserve to be there. I hope this

will make them better.’

Hawken says she has ’a dream job’. She heads of one of the most

successful UK publishers of youth, fashion, health and parenting

magazines. For Hawken, Red confirms that Emap Elan has come of age. ’The

amazing thing is that five years ago we weren’t a player in the women’s

glossy magazine market. It took us far too long to realise that it was

like any other magazine market - we were a bit scared of the big boys.

In the last two or three years we found our confidence.’

Hawken is truly a magazine woman. Shortly after graduating she became a

sub-editor on Woman’s World at Carlton Magazines, before joining Emap

Metro a year later as marketing assistant. A year later she was made

product manager of Looks and Smash Hits and two years later became

publisher of the heavy metal magazine, Raw. By 1993 she was managing

director of Emap Metro, and in 1995 took up the new post of managing

director of Emap Elan.

Tom Moloney, the chief executive of Emap’s consumer division, believes

that Hawken, through her success, has become more confident. ’She’s only

just begun to realise how good she is. She’s coming into her prime and

her profile grows as her achievements do.’

Hawken does not have the dazzling social profile of, say, Nicholas

Coleridge at Conde Nast, but those who know her admire her honesty and


Andy Tilley, a partner at Unity who works with Hawken, says: ’She’s

straight - if she doesn’t like something she will tell you.’ This

no-nonsense approach is confirmed by Moloney. ’With Sue there’s no point

in pussyfooting around. People have to say what they mean, do what they


In the trendy, open-plan offices at Elan, Hawken is a familiar figure as

she hops from one editor’s desk to another. ’I think I drive them mad

with my opinions about how they should do their jobs, but it’s my job to

ask why we don’t do this and that. It’s my job to make a nuisance of

myself,’ she declares.

The launch of Red will be followed by more new titles from Emap Elan,

according to Hawken. ’We’ll do one major project a year. Red is this

year’s project, so obviously we are looking at the next big thing. We

are really buoyed by our success in the glossy magazine market and the

ability to produce innovative magazines. We do some relatively small

homes titles - I think we could create something in slimming and

health.’ She has said enough and politely refuses to be drawn any

further on the matter.

Hawken is never lost for words when talking about magazines, but she

evidently feels uncomfortable when pressed for personal information.

After gleaning from her that she lives with her husband, an accountant,

and her three-year-old daughter, Ellie, in Twickenham, the interview is

brought to an abrupt close. She announces: ’I’ve had enough.’ As I look

slightly put out, she hastily adds: ’It’s nothing personal. I just hate

talking about myself. I don’t know why I agreed to do this.’

The Hawken file

1986 Emap Metro, marketing assistant

1987 Emap Metro, product manager of Smash Hits and Looks

1988 Emap Metro, marketing manager

1989 Emap Metro, publisher of Raw

1992 Emap Metro, publisher of Q and Select

1993 Emap Metro, managing director

1995 Emap Elan, managing director


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