Media: Double Standards - Beautiful cover models will always have a place

Two major players in the burgeoning men's media sector discuss the 3G revolution, why the cover model will never die and the merits of Massive Attack v Machine Head.

DAVID PULLAN - MANAGING DIRECTOR, FHM WORLDWIDE; GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR, EMAP EAST

- Who are your key competitors?

For our consumers, key competitors for their time would be multichannel TV, the internet, the gym, the pub and their mates. Even their girlfriends want a piece of them. In terms of commercial revenues, it would be Sky TV, Virgin Radio, The Sun, online portals, print competitors.

- What has been the most interesting development in your market this year?

The most interesting development has to be the full commercial launch of 3G mobile services. With mobile phones increasingly looking like the key "convergence" device, our core consumers have a whole new medium to play with and brands such as FHM and Zoo will have to create compelling new experiences, complementary to what we already offer in print and online.

- Men's media is bigger than it has ever been before and, with the growing popularity of multichannel TV and the internet and talk of the men's weeklies going twice-weekly, it is set to get even bigger. Why should blokes choose your offering in an increasingly crowded market?

One word: relevance. FHM has maintained its dominance of the men's monthly market over the past eight years through the sheer quality of the editorial product, which is rooted in a deep understanding of young men and what makes them tick. For Zoo, it's about being funny, sexy and topical, and with the new editorial team in place the magazine will become increasingly differentiated from its competition through smarter, funnier writing. For Arena, we do believe it stands alone as the only premium men's monthly for the modern British male.

- How did you come to work in your industry?

I came to this through marketing in other media, and Emap wanted a different perspective on what is increasingly a multi-platform global media brand. Or, as that seems to have been interpreted in the office, I spend all my time on an aeroplane and get to wear lots of suits.

- Magazines and TV channels aimed at young men are often accused of being soft porn. Do you think this is fair comment or do they have more to offer than scantily clad females?

Fabulous women will always be part of the content mix for a young male target audience. Look at the recent GQ (Cameron Diaz), Esquire (Keira Knightley) and Arena (Elisha Cuthbert), as well as the bigger-selling titles. But none of this is porn and it is never the only reason men buy a magazine. Today, fantastic women are the minimum price of entry, but the whole editorial package is what sells the product at the newsstand.

- What qualities do you need to be good at your job?

You have to be equally good with numbers and with people. You need to have empathy with creative types and sales types, clarity of strategic thinking and the flexibility to change what you believe and know all the time. Useful but not obligatory is the ability to walk past a wall full of Kelly Brook page-proofs without missing a beat.

- What are the biggest frustrations in your role?

My biggest frustrations would be too many things to juggle and not enough time to get to all of them, and insufficient time to really talk to people in the teams.

- Which magazines and TV channels do you read and watch in your spare time?

I subscribe to The Week and I always read Heat and Car. I pick up Top Gear when I can and I do enjoy (most of) Vanity Fair. I watch a lot of Channel 4, some Sky One and I try to keep up with music through MTV2.

- How do you unwind from the pressures of your job?

I have an hour on the bus every night back to Dulwich, so (depending on how much I am wound up) the iPod could be on anything from Massive Attack to Machine Head.

JONATHAN WEBB - DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING, BRAVO

- Who are your key competitors?

Channels such as Sky One, ITV2 and E4 when it comes to profile in the digital TV channel world.

- What has been the most interesting development in your market this year?

The launch of TV on mobile is starting to gather pace - Bravo is a top-three channel on Vodafone and Orange and we are already carrying six major advertisers. On the video-on-demand side, our commissioned programmes are now available on demand to Telewest subscribers through the new Teleport service. Mobile, broadband and on-demand will play a huge part in our thinking for 2006.

- Men's media is bigger than it has ever been before and, with the growing popularity of multichannel TV and the internet and talk of the men's weeklies going twice-weekly, it is set to get even bigger. Why should blokes choose your offering in an increasingly crowded market?

Because Bravo has a clear voice and personality. You know what Bravo stands for, which is why we have such reach among men (bigger than Sky Sports 1, 2 and 3 combined). My vision for Bravo is to be funny, fierce and smart; take Booze Britain - Boozageddon? next Sunday. It's a one-hour special on the change in licensing hours, which takes a funny and informative look at the first few days of 24-hour drinking on the streets of Britain. It's not enough to simply entertain any more - we need to be live and topical with stuff you want to talk about in the pub.

- How did you come to work in your industry?

I started in marketing with Unilever, but felt the creative calling (it was almost godly). I remember walking into the props department at my first TV interview and thinking: "Brilliant!" My first mentor, Nigel Pickard, gave me the confidence to break into programming.

- Magazines and TV channels aimed at young men are often accused of being soft porn. Do you think this is fair comment or do they have more to offer than scantily clad females?

Of course men want football, fighting, fast cars and pretty girls, but they are also more sophisticated and aspirational than ever. I want Bravo to deliver smart and funny TV that reflects all our moods as men, like Gazzetta with James Richardson - a passionate, clever and wry way into Italian football. Next year, we are launching new factual strands that get under the skin of British male popular culture, starting with the witty and erudite James Brown on riots.

- What qualities do you need to be good at your job?

Trend-spotter, story-teller, collaborator, visionary, socialite, strong liver.

- What are the biggest frustrations in your role?

Taking a creative risk and hitting a new trend just at the right moment, then watching everyone else jump on the bandwagon and strangle your idea. Getting advertisers to understand the power of digital communities and the quality of relationship we have with our viewers.

- Which magazines and TV channels do you read and watch in your spare time?

Radio 5 Live and FIP (French radio station), Word and GQ, Modern Toss, The Guardian, The Independent, Modern Drunkard, Entertainment Weekly (both US titles).

- How do you unwind from the pressures of your job?

Sailing, walks by the sea and cider.