Claire Beale discovers the cost of being a pioneer of innovative
Cover-mounts on magazines are nothing new. The game now is to make your
cover-mount bigger, better and more desirable than the next magazine’s.
For Emap Metro that meant turning the idea of the cover-mount on its
head and mounting the magazine inside a box of promotional goodies.
The December issue of Emap’s music title, Select, comes packaged in a
special box, which also includes a range of products such as Britvic’s
Tango, Golden Wonder’s Nik Naks and Cadbury’s Twirl.
The Select box was a perfect marketing initiative, the magazine’s ad
director, Anna Hyde, says, because it added value for the reader,
enforced the magazine’s brand credentials, heightened awareness of the
title at point of sale and attracted different products to test the
magazine’s effectiveness in reaching a youth audience.
The magazine itself targets 16- to 24-year-old music fans, with a spin
on the latest news and reviews.
Select’s marketing strategy is designed to reflect the flavour of the
magazine’s cutting-edge editorial approach and is based on presenting
the magazine as different, witty and fun.
‘We always seek to be innovative with Select’s promotions, which must
always be in tune with the magazine’s editorial values. That means being
off the wall and being different,’ Hyde says. Select advertised the box
with a fly-poster advertising campaign in major urban areas, which
further positioned the magazine, and the promotion itself, as street-
wise and unconventional.
For the advertisers who signed up to put their products in the package,
the box offered the opportunity to buy into these aspects of the
magazine. ‘The advertisers were able to get directly into the teenage
market and tap into the brand values of Select,’ Hyde points out.
Although the advertisers themselves did not tie in the sampling
opportunity with display ads inside the magazine, Hyde is confident that
they will now be more receptive to taking ads in the title.
The novelty of the idea meant a few problems actually selling the
concept to advertisers, however. The Select sales team had to approach
the proposition through a number of routes. Hyde says that PR companies,
media buyers and creative agencies were all involved in the process and
it was a challenge to get them to appreciate the opportunity the box
The news trade also took a little while to get used to the idea of a
bulky magazine that would inevitably disrupt traditional in-store
magazine displays. Mary McGovern, the product manager for Emap’s music
titles, admits: ‘Initially it was quite difficult to organise. The news
trade had never seen anything like it before and we had to negotiate
special facings and shelf space.’
A spokesman for one newsagent chain says that shelf space is precious,
and extra space is not something many newsagents hand over without
careful consideration: ‘Publishers can pay for extra shelf space, but
with so many magazines jostling for share of voice on newsstands, every
inch is vital. However, something like the Select box is more of an
incentive to buy than some of the more usual cover-mounts, and so
newsagents are less likely to be concerned about the extra space it
Within days of the box going on sale, Emap claimed to have taken calls
from several news-trade representatives calling for more supplies
because they’d sold out.
However, the logistics of the box encompassed a number of hidden costs
for Emap which McGovern admits that she had not really anticipated,
including storage, packaging and the manual packing-up of the boxes
How to take the cover-mount strategy on and develop new ways of using
free samples to drive magazine sales is something that will increasingly
preoccupy many publishers.