MEDIA: THE BIG ISSUE: AN EXPERT’S VIEW - The relaunched magazine is eye-catching and informative, Matthew Andrews comments

Which magazine has a world exclusive on Naomi Campbell, photographed by David Bailey? Past issues have included exclusive interviews with George Michael, Robbie Williams, Tom Jones, Melanie C and All Saints to name but a few.

Which magazine has a world exclusive on Naomi Campbell,

photographed by David Bailey? Past issues have included exclusive

interviews with George Michael, Robbie Williams, Tom Jones, Melanie C

and All Saints to name but a few.



Is it Vogue? Er ... no. Elle? Er ... no. GQ? Er ... no. Marie Claire?

Er ... no. The Big Issue? Er ... yes!



It was relaunched last week with a full-colour redesign on glossy paper,

bringing a quality feel that better reflects its consistent mix of

exclusive celebrity interviews, campaigning journalism and social

insight. This week the magazine covers the rise of international drug

dealing on the internet, the demise of the British rag trade and the A-Z

of phobias.



You might be forgiven for forgetting that The Big Issue was set up in

1991 to give homeless people the chance to make an income. Its low-grade

paper and matt design were in keeping with its worthy cause and street

feel.



While homelessness remains at the core of the magazine, the redesign

reflects the importance of selling The Big Issue on the quality of its

content as opposed to an altruistic ’feel-good’ purchase on a cold and

wet morning. How many of its readers (65 per cent of whom are ABC1) buy

it but never actually read it? With the purpose of the magazine firmly

established in the public consciousness, its future can only benefit

from the new emphasis on quality design and editorial.



Since 1996, The Big Issue’s London circulation has fallen from 143,000

to 127,000. Its national circulation has fluctuated between 260,000 and

280,000. The redesign should help stabilise its circulation; perhaps

marketing and distribution will be next.



Marketing could make the most of exclusive content to give people a

fresh perspective on The Big Issue and, potentially, bring in new

readers. The Naomi picture exclusive could work as a Big Issue promotion

in weekend supplements of the national press, possibly trading content

for space.



Alternative distribution will bring in new readers. Could the magazine

be sold at The Body Shop or Starbucks with the full cover price going to

The Big Issue Foundation?



Overall, the redesign works as a first step to repositioning The Big

Issue as it approaches its tenth anniversary, reflecting a fresher

attitude.



The Big Issue is not worthy and does not shove social issues down your

throat. It is entertaining and revealing and it makes you think. The

redesign provides a format that does the content justice.





Circulation (national) 266,060



Readership 1.15 million



Cover price pounds 1



Frequency Weekly



Advertisers include Buena Vista, Placebo, Levi’s, Caterpillar, Smile,

First Direct, National Gallery



Full-page colour ad rate (London) pounds 3,300



Distribution Licensed vendors stationed in city centres.



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