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
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
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
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
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
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.