World: Medium of the Week - French sport daily updates its weekly magazine

L'Equipe's magazine aims to appeal to a wider client base, Mark Tungate reports.

If you're the sort of newspaper reader who turns to the back page first, you'll understand the popularity of L'Equipe, France's daily dose of sports news.

While the UK has never had a daily sports paper worthy of the name, L'Equipe is the third-most popular newspaper in the country - behind Le Monde and Le Figaro. And, unlike the others, it costs less than one euro.

Groupe Amaury, the owner of L'Equipe, also owns the bi-weekly France Football and the daily tabloids Le Parisien and Aujourd'hui en France.

Effectively, the group has its hand on the wallets of the country's lower-middle-class.

Marie Gerard, L'Equipe's communications director, comments: "L'Equipe is extremely well-established and the sports coverage in the generalist papers here in France cannot compare - unlike in the UK, where the national dailies cover sport in more depth."

Gerard says the readership is 90 per cent male, with a wide age range, and that sportswear brands and cars dominate the ad pages.

Although none of this is news, the paper recently caught the attention of media observers by relaunching its weekly magazine supplement, which comes out with the Saturday edition. While the old magazine had begun to look a bit middle-aged, the new version is slick and youthful, with an emphasis on sports photography. There is more coverage of non-traditional sports such as surfing, and articles on the business and marketing of sports. The back section - Zone Mixte - features a shopping page, reviews of male healthcare and grooming products, and even a gossip page.

Gerard explains: "Apart from providing services such as great sports photography to our readers, the magazine opens up L'Equipe to a broader range of advertisers. It is attracting insurers, banks, holiday companies, male fragrances - the kind of clients you might expect to see in one of the general news magazines."

Not only that, but the revamped supplement may attract more women readers for the first time. Boys dig those surfing shots, but once the mag has washed up on the coffee table, their girlfriends might be tempted by profiles of heartthrobs such as Thierry Henry and David Beckham. It's no coincidence that both players have been featured on the front page.

Gerard says advertiser response to the magazine has been "extremely positive".

Meanwhile, L'Equipe is becoming an increasingly powerful brand - as well as its 24-hour French satellite TV channel and website, it publishes versions in Russia, China and Japan. Gerard confirms that it is also eyeing other Eastern European countries and Francophone markets such as North Africa and Canada. For now, though, a British version looks unlikely.

Frequency: Daily (seven days)

Circulation: 324,246 (OJD 2003)

Average cost of a full-page colour ad: Newspaper - 75,000 euros (£50,820); Magazine - 20,000 euros(£13,550) Typical advertisers

Newspaper - Nike, Puma, Peugeot, Jeep; Magazine - Credit Lyonnais

(bank), Dior Higher Energy (male fragrance), Samsung Competitors No

direct competitors

Established: 1946

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