It's amazing to think now that some magazine industry experts thought that Glamour might not prove a success in the UK. By the end of 2001, though, most were convinced when Glamour posted its first circulation figure of 451,486, just 690 sales behind The National Magazine's Company's Cosmopolitan, a strong market leader in the women's glossy sector.
The £1.50 cover price and new "handbag" size might have helped explain Glamour's success, but Simon Kippin, the magazine's publisher, heralded the launch as a success because it "unashamedly" gave its young female readers what they wanted. "We don't cover the common agricultural policy or a meeting of the G8," he explained.
Glamour is an international success story that began in the US, where it first launched in 1939 as a younger, sprightlier sister title to Vogue. It has since taken off in other markets, with the UK launch among the more phenomenal, especially as it hit the streets as the economy experienced a slight downturn.
However, the US is still its major market, where its huge subscriptions added to its newsstand sales of close to one million give it a paid-for sale of 2.3 million.
However, in Europe, Conde Nast apparently feels the brand needs a push. Last week, Campaign revealed that the publisher is holding an advertising pitch to develop the positioning of its titles. JWT London was the last agency to work on the Glamour account in the UK and created a campaign using the line "fits into your life and your handbag", but the account has been dormant for some time.
Nicholas Coleridge, the managing director of Conde Nast, says: "In recent years, we have devised different advertising campaigns for each market, but we are looking to see whether a single campaign could be more powerful as well as more cost-effective. A multinational campaign of this sort has only become possible since Glamour has grown so fast."
DDB London, JWT London and Ogilvy Advertising will pitch for the task. The message of the campaign will be interesting. After all, Conde Nast can hardly boast anymore about the uniqueness of the title's handbag size. One agency source suggests that an element of the pitch relates to the perception of Glamour among the advertising community and adds that a push toward new sectors of advertisers could be on the horizon for Glamour. However, there is no indication that there will be significant editorial changes to accompany the brand push. After all, there are differences, subtle or otherwise, between the titles in markets (especially with the frequency).
The main effect of the campaign, then, especially in markets such as Italy and the UK, where Grazia now has the industry buzz around it, should be to re-create some of the energy and excitement of the early noughties around Glamour. And following years of international success for the brand, Conde Nast should certainly have the budget to achieve this.
1. The number of editions of Glamour has grown in ten years from two to 15. Outside the US, it launched in Italy (1992), the UK and Germany (2001), Spain (2002), and Russia and France in 2004. Other European editions are Greece, Poland, Hungary, The Netherlands, Sweden and Romania. It has a combined readership of 22 million and sells six million copies a month across markets.
2. However, the magazine hasn't had it all its own way in the UK. After a spectacular first six years of non-stop circulation growth, it saw dips and ended 2007 with sales of 550,066, a healthy sale and still number one in the women's monthly market, but nevertheless a 6.5 per cent decline year on year. The growth of Bauer Consumer Media's weekly Grazia can't have helped, but Conde Nast pointed to growth in the second half of the year as a sign of the title's health. Kippin described Glamour as entering a "settling down period".
3. Agencies say that in ad terms at least, Glamour is still an important part of the schedule. And they are not too critical of the UK title losing some circulation ground last year. Peter Thomson, the managing director of the Omnicom-owned M2M (which handles the global Estee Lauder account), says: "We're big users of Glamour and the feeling is that it has been so successful that you just can't sustain this." However, agencies do suggest Glamour may not be able to charge the premium for ad space that it used to command, putting pressure on its yields.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR ...
- Some agencies argue that there is a need to inject greater momentum and excitement behind the title again. An international ad campaign could achieve this. They don't expect significant editorial changes but feel that ad activity could work for Conde Nast.
- Advertising, especially elements targeted at the advertising community, could have the effect of again establishing Glamour as a "must-have" on schedules across European markets. If it brings in new advertisers and energises those that already support the title, Glamour's yields should go up.
- The publisher will also clearly hope that a campaign will drive circulation and build its strong readership profile.
- Any push behind the brand is welcomed by agencies. As Peter Thomson of M2M says: "It was the hottest, sexiest product around, but because of the arrival of Grazia that's no longer the case."
- In short, any refreshing of the brand will be seen as helpful, especially now Glamour offers advertising across a range of platforms. These days, we're just as likely to see headlines such as "Glamour signs mobile ad deal with Dior" as read about traditional deals. So agencies need reassurance that the brand remains young, vibrant and fresh.