WORLD: MEDIUM OF THE WEEK - Men's Style offers general-interest title in Australia

New men's title targets the audience between FHM and Time, Robert Russell writes.

You'd have thought Peter Holder would have learned his lesson. Five years ago, he was the launch editor of Australian GQ, which limped along for a year before it folded.

Now he's the editor of Men's Style, the latest entry into the notoriously fickle Australian men's magazine market.

This time round, though, Kerry Packer's Australian Consolidated Publishing, Australia's largest magazine publisher, is determined not to make the same mistake.

Where they failed with GQ, they hope to succeed with Men's Style, which is quarterly with ambitions to go bi-monthly, whereas GQ went boldly for an initial monthly circulation. "There's never going to be a monthly in this market," Holder states. "Why? Because there's just not enough advertising to sustain it."

Listen to the pundits and today's Australian male is ripe for a magazine that is as much about male grooming and fashion as it is about the Boy's Own stuff found in existing titles.

Is this the famed metrosexual that we hear so much about today? "I hate that title. The only example anyone can find is David Beckham. Aussie men aren't metrosexual and if you called them that, they would probably belt you," Holder says.

Andrew Cook, Men's Style's advertising manager, on the other hand, just stops short of using it. "There's a gap for a general-interest title in the 30- to 44-year-old men's market. Younger men read FHM or Ralph, while older men read business titles such as Bulletin and Time. There's nothing general interest for them."

They also have more money and that's why GQ is giving it another shot.

Two weeks before Men's Style's launch, the new-look GQ came out as a quarterly under its new owner, Federal Publishing Company, which publishes under licence from Conde Nast.

Thirtysomething men are after something different from what's on offer.

In the six months to June, the Audit Bureau of Circulations figures show Ralph fell to 101,591, FHM saw a slight lift to 101,484 and Men's Health fell to 46,003.

If there's a gap in the market, it is not at that end. "There's room for a magazine that guys can read on a plane without having to hide it behind a newspaper," Holder says.

Men's Style is as polished as some of its target audience of thirtysomething males would like to be. Printed on 196 pages of high-quality stock, its aspiration - to offer a more intelligent read - is clear to behold. There's a timely feature on the late Johnny Cash (written before he died) and one on the real Jerry Maguire. Fashion and features neatly meld in a spread on the Australian boxer Paul Miller. Even the cover shot steers away from convention - the supermodel Megan Gale appears in an androgynous shot, wearing a suit. Australia, it seems, is not quite primed for a man on a cover just yet.

Typical advertisers: Lexus, Clarins, Aramis and Joop

Cover price: $9.95

Full-colour page ratecard: $7,500

Rivals: GQ, FHM, Men's Health

Frequency: Quarterly

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