Media: Double Standards - 'GQ keeps trying to poach my staff: it's flattering'

Dylan Jones and Jeremy Langmead explain why their magazines won't go south like others in the men's market have - and can't resist ribbing each other in the process.

DYLAN JONES - EDITOR, GQ

- Where did it go wrong for Arena, Maxim and Sport?

Arena was mismanaged. One month it wanted to be GQ, the next it wanted to be FHM. The management couldn't make up their mind what they expected of it. It once had such a unique position in the marketplace, but it was pulled around by its nose-ring, from one end of the market to the other. Maxim was simply a victim of circumstance, and what was once a powerful brand began to look rather desperate. Sport failed because the free business model is incredibly vicarious. With free newspapers, everyone is a customer, but with free men's magazines, it's rather more problematic, especially when you see them being handed out to 14-year-old girls and Big Issue vendors.

- How is the future looking for the men's market?

At the luxury end, we're not doing too badly, thank you. It's challenging, but then there will always be battles to fight. It's what makes the job interesting.

- Are lads' mags dead?

Not dead, but dying on the vine. The bottom-feeder end of the market is not a great place to be at the moment, as all those magazines really have going for them is sex. And the only way to be more shocking sexually is by being more extreme, which eventually leads to pornography. Which is now free online. So why buy a scuzzy, unfunny magazine?

- What's the best thing about your title?

The best thing about GQ is the fact that it is, by some distance, the market leader.

- How have you recession-proofed your magazine?

By making the magazine indispensable for both readers and advertisers alike. If you are interested in what it means to be a modern man - what they think, what they consume - and you want to reach that man, you simply don't have to go anywhere else. Why on earth would you go to Esquire? It's a pretty mediocre, lacklustre product that sells less than 30 per cent of what GQ does. The only reason to place an ad in Esquire is if you can't afford to place it in GQ. End of story.

- What interesting commercial tie-ups have you in the pipeline?

We have many - some print, although, increasingly, they involve multiplatform brands. I hope you're going to be surprised by some of the things we have planned for later in the year.

- What's the key to being a successful editor?

Whenever I give lectures to students, I always get asked how to get on in the industry. And always say you need two things to be successful. Second, you need to work very, very, very hard. And first, you need to be lucky. I was lucky to be offered my job, and, since then, I have worked very, very, very hard.

- Where do you see yourself in five years' time?

This month, I'm celebrating ten years at the helm of GQ. And, in five years, ideally, I'd like to still be working for Conde Nast. It is the best magazine publisher in the world.

JEREMY LANGMEAD - EDITOR, ESQUIRE

- Where did it go wrong for Arena, Maxim and Sport?

It's unfair to lump them together; each of them failed for very different reasons. Arena, sadly, lost its way and suffered from a lack of investment and vision from its management. Maxim had had its time - some titles just go out of fashion. Sport, which I thought was a great product, was purely unlucky in that its parent company went under.

- How is the future looking for the men's market?

All markets evolve and change with the times and that's why, along with a little help from a global recession, there's been a bumpy ride for a handful of titles recently. For Esquire, I'm happy to say, the future looks good. As the most upmarket and sophisticated of the men's lifestyle titles, we are in a good position: we have a growing number of intelligent, discerning readers (our subscriptions have gone up 44 per cent since our relaunch in September 2007) who enjoy what we offer - and they've been doing so since we started back in 1933. We'll be around for some time yet.

- Are lads' mags dead?

I hope not. Some have disappeared because what they offer is available for free, and with even less clothes, online. At their best, however, some of the so-called lads' mags can be very funny and entertaining - not a bad offering in these gloomy times.

- What's the best thing about your title?

It looks great, features fantastic writing, and succeeds in entertaining and informing grown-up men with taste, ambition, humour and a bookshelf. Oh, and the fact that GQ keeps trying to poach my staff: it's very flattering.

- How have you recession-proofed your magazine?

We have a small team, a tight budget, endless energy and realms of innovative ideas.

- What interesting commercial tie-ups have you in the pipeline?

Tons. Every issue this autumn has an extraordinary editorial and commercial project attached. We have, in all honesty, had people fighting to be involved; it has been amazing. Sadly, they all need to remain a secret until they hit the newsstands.

- What's the key to being a successful editor?

Thick skin, a good eye, the ability to eavesdrop, a dash of charm, no shame, a talent for spotting talent and good shoes.

- Where do you see yourself in five years' time?

Booking Botox.

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