Media: Strategy of the week - Test Drive enters into crowded magazine market

The first new car magazine in five years hits the shelves soon, Kate Nicholson writes. Petrolheads haven't been handed much new reading fodder recently.

Test Drive Monthly, Dennis Publishing's latest motoring magazine, is entering a market which hasn't seen a major launch since Dennis' Evo five years ago.

Circulations in the monthly motoring sector are generally healthy, with Haymarket's What Car?, BBC Magazines' Top Gear and Evo all showing sales increases. But with a selection of already successful titles, is there really room for yet another car magazine?

Mike Askew, the editor of Test Drive, thinks there is. "There is a gap in the mainstream magazine market," he says. "At present, there are lifestyle magazines with little substance and data-heavy titles without personality. We wanted something that would satisfy both the enthusiast and the buyer."

The magazine will target a broad spectrum of 25- to 50-year-olds, as opposed to boy racers (who tend to be well served by the likes of Max Power).

DFGW picked up the £5 million multimedia advertising campaign that surrounds the launch. TV, press, outdoor and radio campaigns broke on 3 October and will raise awareness of the magazine's content and its introductory price of £1.85. The agency is working on the launch with BLM Media, which is responsible for media planning and buying.

The campaign is running on TV channels including Sky One, Channel 4 and ITV1, with a heavy focus on Sunday viewing. The schedule, among others, includes The Championship, World Rally, Scrap Heap Challenge, The Sopranos and News at Ten. To reflect the range of cars that are reviewed and tested in the magazine, the TV ads feature people reading the magazine in unusual places.

One ad features a group of people reading about "small cars" while hunched together in a sauna. The ads end with the line: "Before you decide, take a Test Drive."

Radio plays a significant role, with a national campaign on talkSPORT and Virgin Radio's Pete and Geoff breakfast show. Guy Abrahams, the planning director at BLM, says: "The positioning of the radio ads matches the sense of humour of the magazine; it's not as straight-laced as other titles."

The outdoor element of the campaign sees "live cars" on London's main station platforms, where commuters can see the latest models or go for an actual test-drive.

Paul Clarke, the account director at DFGW, explains: "The strategy was to find a way of growing the marketplace, not just stealing a share. A lot of readers out there aren't being represented."

As Test Drive's success will be based on satisfying the reader's appetite for a different kind of car magazine, it will certainly be a test for competitors to retaliate without changing their own products.

Client: Dennis Publishing

Media: Television, press, outdoor, radio

Agencies: DFGW, BLM Media

Media idea: Understand what turns the car magazine buyer on and convey

both the authority and the identity of the magazine

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