NEW-LOOK EUROPEAN: European seeks upmarket niche

The European revealed its latest guise on newsstands this week as a fully fledged magazine, marking the sixth major revamp since its launch in May 1990. The new look is the work of Andrew Neil, editor-in-chief of the European, who joined the operation in June last year.

The European revealed its latest guise on newsstands this week as a

fully fledged magazine, marking the sixth major revamp since its launch

in May 1990. The new look is the work of Andrew Neil, editor-in-chief of

the European, who joined the operation in June last year.



The newspaper, which went tabloid in July 1997, has been turned into a

magazine with a clearer layout and features aimed at an upmarket,

board-level business readership.



The European’s managing director, Michael Moore, explained the change in

stance: ’The original European was a general interest publication.



What we have now is a more intelligent business-orientated publication,

which is more tightly focused on the economic and political impact

European countries have on each other, and on the financial structures

of the world. It’s far less general interest.’



The new format has been generally well received by media agency

directors.



However, it is felt that the newspaper still needs a tighter focus if it

is to attract a more upmarket readership and compete against established

titles such as the Economist.



Chris Shaw, joint managing director of Universal McCann, said: ’I got

quite excited at first, but it seemed to lose its way again - it still

doesn’t seem to know what it is. It could have been a good competitor to

business periodicals with a format popular with business readers, and it

is a fraction of the price of its competitors. But it slips into

European news and features which aren’t relevant to business audiences

There are pieces on wars against the police in Paris and basketball

riots in Poland. What’s the relevance of these to the European

businessman?’



Mike Wood, media director of J. Walter Thompson, approves of the new

format but feels something is missing. ’It’s visually a lot more

enticing - it looks like a review section of a Sunday newspaper - and

the size is much easier to read while travelling. My concern is that

they’ve not yet decided what it’s going to be. It hasn’t got heart and

soul. With the Economist you know exactly what it’s about - it covers

great issues and has structure. The European covers a lot of countries,

so it feels a bit like it is working its way down a checklist, which

detracts slightly from the product.’



Tim Kirkman, press director at TMD Carat, was heartened by the

European’s initial efforts, but remains a committed Economist reader.

’As a first stab, I think it’s quite good, but I really struggle with

the authority of the thing against the strength of its competitors such

as the Economist and Newsweek. It doesn’t leap across to me that it’s

gone upmarket. Editorially, it is more highbrow in terms of expanding

its sections and features, but there’s nothing there which would drag me

away from the Economist.’



However, Kirkman is confident that the newspaper is sustainable.

’Anything backed by the Barclay brothers has a future because of the

size of their pockets. They have continued to invest in the

product.’



Phil Georgiadis, managing partner of Walker Media, believes the new-look

European has found its focus and will be able to sustain its present

circulation of 153,000. But he is still concerned about the newspaper’s

ability to maintain the quality it needs in order to create a loyal

readership. ’My perception of the European before its revamp was one of

a newspaper which didn’t match up to its proposition.



Now with the magazine, they have very aggressively defined their

readership base. On paper, it makes sense to become more exclusive than

going for a more popular appeal.



’The product has a lot in it, and if they can keep this breadth of

journalism up, it’s an interesting read if you have the time and

opportunity to look at it. But the economics of the newspaper concern me

- can they sustain it long enough to create a habit among time-starved,

information-overloaded people?’



HISTORY OF THE EUROPEAN



11 May 1990 Launched by Robert Maxwell, it aims to offer readers a wider

perspective on European affairs. Maxwell hopes for weekly sales of

500,000 and guarantees 225,000 to advertisers



July-December 1990 The European’s first ABC figure is 226,099 (121,925

UK sale)



May 1991 The newspaper is redesigned as a ’bigger, sharper, more

entertaining’ read



December 1991 Following the death of Robert Maxwell and the exposure of

the missing Mirror Group pension fund money, the Maxwell empire

collapses and the European goes into administration



January 1992 The Barclay Brothers buy the European. It is rumoured they

paid several million for a newspaper with estimated losses of pounds 20

million in the previous year



May 1992 The newspaper is relaunched with the return of three sections,

including revamped business pages and an Elan arts and lifestyle

newsprint section



November 1993 Focus shifts to the more lucrative business market as it

relaunches again. Large photographs are cut back and it sports a cleaner

typeface



February 1995 The paper changes typeface again and relaunches its Elan

magazine as it tries to adopt a more individual image



June 1997 Andrew Neil becomes editor-in-chief



July 1997 Neil repositions the European as a tabloid ’viewspaper’,

pitched against the Economist and the International Herald Tribune



January 1998 The European completes its transition into a fully fledged

tabloid magazine.



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