When the votes were counted for Medium of the Year, Emap Metro’s
FHM was the outright winner. It was universally recognised that the
men’s magazine had a fantastic year in 1997, chalking up enormous
circulation increases and storming ahead of all the glossy monthly
magazines. For a title that was originally launched as a quarterly
in-store title, its impact on the market has been outstanding.
Whether you love it or loathe it, FHM has done things for the men’s
magazine market that other magazines haven’t, opening it up in
mass-market terms and helping to consolidate the sector as a ’must’ for
advertisers. During the last ABC audit period (January-June 1997) it
recorded a 178 per cent year-on-year increase to 504,959, leaving the
IPC rival, Loaded, trailing behind at 380,420. This surge in circulation
followed on from an increase of 217 per cent (July-December 1996), which
pushed the magazine past Loaded for the first time.
Media buyers are optimistic FHM will continue to achieve double-digit
growth, a year after people were questioning whether the men’s magazine
market had achieved all it could. There is no doubt that Loaded
transformed the men’s market into a new animal with its lager-and-lads
attitude, but it is still, arguably, a niche magazine. Editorially, FHM
may be unexceptional, and it cannot claim to have invented a new
category, but the title has recognised the demand for glamorous pictures
of half-naked women. It has boosted a sector that was in danger of
losing its edge in terms of growth.
For advertisers, the magazine is the perfect way to catch traditionally
light media consumers, a market that in the past has been relatively
expensive to reach. It also offers the double whammy of a tightly
targeted audience of ABC1 men in large numbers. FHM’s advertising
revenue increased 250 per cent this year (12 months to November) and
leads the men’s market in terms of its prestigious fashion and alcohol
advertising. New advertisers that recognise the magazine’s growth
include Guinness - which has picked FHM as the only men’s magazine it
will advertise in this year - Smirnoff and Raymond Weil.
Since Emap’s acquisition of the title in May 1994 - when it had a
circulation of just 60,000 - FHM has shown phenomenal development. It
has evolved from a specialist fashion and lifestyle title to an
Its success has spurred competitors such as Conde Nast to rethink its
In April, James Brown, the former editor of Loaded, was poached to
rejuvenate GQ in the face of FHM’s success and adopt a less reverent
approach. Much of the magazine’s success was nurtured under the
editorship of Mike Soutar, who in March moved on to become managing
director of Kiss FM.
Aware that it will be difficult to continue such an impressive growth
rate, Emap announced in November that it planned to invest pounds 5
million in a spring advertising campaign using Bartle Bogle Hegarty. It
is also hatching plans to extend the brand into masthead programming and
What won’t Emap Metro do to raise the awareness of the FHM brand?
Channel 5 was the clear runner-up to FHM in this category. Although it
still has to iron out reception problems, the station has made a
positive impact on advertising by increasing commercial TV viewing from
55.3 per cent in March to 57.8 per cent in September.
Since its high-profile launch at the end of March, Channel 5 has gained
pounds 83.5 million in advertising revenue and has managed to persuade
90 per cent of all national network advertisers to try it.
In terms of reach, the channel can be received in 70 per cent of all UK
homes although it still faces the challenge of persuading people to
invest in new aerials and boosting reception.
Aware of the need to extend its audience and pick up homes outside its
transmission footprint, Channel 5 added an extra two million homes by
broadcasting on the Astra satellite. In terms of audience share, the
station has carved out a 3.1 per cent slice of all viewing, and 5.3 per
cent of all commercial viewing with a welcome bias towards the
Channel 5 created one of the most high-profile campaigns of the year,
adopting the distinctive five-colour logo, and ’give me 5’ tagline as
well as hiring the Spice Girls to promote the launch before they became
over-exposed. With a programme budget dwarfed by its terrestrial rivals
and Sky, Channel 5 concentrated on acquiring key football matches and
film deals to boost viewing, in similar way to Sky’s event-led
programming. Overall, the newcomer has had a respectable year, thwarting
Sky’s attempts to poach its head of programming, Dawn Airey, while
reeling in Jim Hytner, Sky’s marketing director, after the departure of
its launch marketing director, David Brook, to Channel 4.
In the turbulent world of newspapers, a number of titles managed to
boost sales while their competitors struggled. The Daily Mail continues
to increase its circulation and advertising revenue and looks invincible
in the mid-market sector. In November, circulation stood at 2.23
million, up just over 7 per cent year on year.
The lengths and expense to which the Telegraph and the Times go in
boosting their sales showed no signs of abating this year, with the
Sunday Telegraph edging closer to the one million circulation mark,
hitting over 900,000 three times this year. The Times, which has
doggedly stuck to its 10p-on-Mondays promotion, is still trying to catch
up with the Daily Telegraph during the week, but the Sunday Times
continues to dominate in the broadsheet market with an average monthly
sale of 1.4 million (ABC 12 months to November).
Recent winners: Sky television (1996); Daily Mail (1995); Classic FM
(1994); Channel 4 (1993); the Guardian (1992).