Editorial: Publishers wise up to eclectic title mix

It's no surprise that The National Magazine Company is keeping its head beneath the parapet over plans to launch a celebrity-led weekly title for a more mature female readership.

It's an area that has big potential yet remains curiously under-exploited and it surely can't be too long before rivals such as Richard Desmond move into the territory.

As exclusively revealed by Campaign last week, NatMags is talking to creative agencies about the launch and budgets of £10 million are being bandied around.

Evidence suggests that there's a place in the market for a women's weekly magazine that combines high production values, while breaking down the barriers between readers and celebrities. Emap has blazed a trail with Closer. Launched in October 2002 as a celebrity magazine for the 30- to 50-year-old women's market, it boasts a 15 per cent rise in circulation during the past six months.

The pioneers in the field, such as Hello!, were very preoccupied with Hollywood A-listers. Today, much has changed along with the definition of what constitutes celebrity status. For example, who could have imagined that Jade Goody's excruciating performances on Big Brother could still guarantee her a front-cover appearance two years on.

TV programmes such as Piers Morgan's Tabloid Tales seem to be fuelling the trend.

The big question is whether or not what could be a new breed of celebrity titles will have sufficient allure for advertisers. The answer is almost certainly yes, although publishers will need to be careful that launches don't cannibalise other titles in their stables.

Of course it's easy to sneer at the vulgarity of new arrivals, especially if you're running one of the more traditional women's titles and are facing the prospect of retaining your core readership while your publisher parent commits the bulk of its marketing budget to The Next Big Thing.

The fact is, though, today's women readers have eclectic tastes and will think nothing of popping Take a Break into their bag alongside Vogue and Cosmopolitan. And publishers know it.

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