Media Headliner: No-nonsense Noguera views broader horizons

Zoo's editor plans to make the magazine more sophisticated, while retaining its appeal to young men, Alasdair Reid reports.

Anthony Noguera seems remarkably grown-up and well-balanced for an editor of a men's magazine - even an editor whose role has evolved to embrace broader responsibilities. Somehow you expect to be confronted by at least something of the enfant terrible - some gratuitous posturing, even on a pro forma basis. Something in the grand tradition of a Greg Gutfeld (the recently departed editor of Maxim) or the granddaddy of them all, the Loaded founder, James Brown.

Noguera immediately steers you straight on that one. The Gutfelds and the Browns are the exceptions rather than the rule in this market - and, on balance, you could argue they have not done the business many favours.

Well, perhaps. But the thing is, you find yourself ready and willing to buy this line - Noguera, who is not only Zoo's editor but also the editor-in-chief of all of Emap's men's magazines, is as genuine as he is enthusiastic. You sense immediately he is very comfortable with himself and what he does. More than anything, he presents well - he argues a good case.

And it helps that this view of recent publishing history dovetails rather neatly with his current mission, which is to remake Zoo as a proposition even more in his own image. As he puts it: "Our aim is to broaden the appeal of the magazine. Nuts has been ploughing a narrower but deeper furrow. We think we can bring more people in if we broaden the parameters."

Noguera says he is not in the business of slagging off rivals, but it is undeniably true that Zoo's rival, the IPC-published Nuts, currently seems determined (despite fitful protestation to the contrary) to make the dumb and trashy end of the market its own.

He insists Zoo is not going to lose sight of the fact that its target market - mid-teens to early twenties - has a set of tastes and desires in which bare breasts loom large. But Zoo will also aim to introduce a more sophisticated brand of humour and also pander more to the audience's appetite for trivia. "Our mission is to entertain but also to make our readers smarter by osmosis," Noguera adds.

Cynics might assume an underlying factor here might be recent rows about whether men's magazines, especially the weeklies, with their salacious front covers, should be banished to the top shelves of newsagents and supermarkets.

But Noguera claims this is a totally fake controversy whipped up by other media on a slow news day and it has hardly figured on Emap's strategic radar.

He is also dismissive of the assumption he is preparing for the possibility that News International will finally launch its much-vaunted men's weekly (it was actually rumoured to be scheduled for a debut during the first quarter of this year).

This would undoubtedly make an impact, with content derived from page three of The Sun and Sky Sports and cross-promoted heavily in these media too.

Noguera says he will cross that bridge when he comes to it and insists the main reason Zoo is repositioning is a desire to expand the UK market. Establishing a clearer product differentiation will also help Emap's ambitions to turn Zoo into a truly global property much in the same way as it has internationalised the FHM brand.

He admits to having unparalleled experience in men's magazines, having joined FHM as the features editor in 1996 following a couple of post-college years working as a music journalist. He moved up into the editor's chair in 1999 and has been Emap's men's magazine guru ever since.

And he is advertiser-friendly too. Media agencies have a lot of time for Noguera, largely because he is prepared to devote a little of his time to them. "We have a close relationship with agencies and that is how it should be. I've no time for editorial people who think advertising is beneath their dignity. I've got no time for editors who talk about 'my magazine'. No, it's not. You can't say that. The truth is you are running a business," he maintains.

Which pretty much encapsulates his grown-up world view - a hell-raiser he is not. And indeed there's very little in the clippings file other than the usual paper trail left by a successful career journalist - job changes mainly, with the odd award thrown in. The only real whiff of scandal takes the form of a Press Complaints Commission reprimand for running a piece in which students were given tips on how to commit suicide.

And, yes, he sheds few tears for Gutfeld's predicament - he carried the can for Maxim's poor recent performance. It is true, of course, that there is more than a smidgeon of personal animus lurking here. Gutfeld had hardly got his feet under the Maxim desk a couple of years back when he started making public attacks on both Noguera and Dylan Jones, the editor of GQ. For instance, Gutfeld ran a full-page picture of Noguera with a caption suggesting that he was "asking for it".

Noguera confesses to being bemused. He has no time for posturing of any sort. "I don't do any of that stuff," he says. "I actually think it's pretty pathetic. It's like The Fast Show character Colin, the office joker, who has to go around telling people: 'I'm crazy, me.' Only a handful of people would have got the stuff he ran about me."

THE LOWDOWN Age: 36 Lives: Ealing, London Family: Wife, son (aged four) and daughter (aged two) Hobbies: Half-arsedly practising Jeet Kune Do Most treasured possession: Whatever overpriced, worthless crap I've got all excited about off eBay that week, only to never use/wear/get out of the box (currently a pair of limited edition Nike Pushead Dunks that don't actually fit me) Favourite magazines: Arena in the UK, Complex in the US Personal mantra: Never had one. Although "always escalate" never did any harm to Ariel Sharon