MEDIA: HEADLINER - Publishing’s Mr Popular aims to work his charm at Glamour. Simon Kippin is hoping to reinvigorate the women’s market

’My good name is on the line,’ says Simon Kippin of his new role as the publishing director of Conde Nast’s soon-to-be-launched Glamour magazine. ’And my good name is very important to me.’

’My good name is on the line,’ says Simon Kippin of his new role as

the publishing director of Conde Nast’s soon-to-be-launched Glamour

magazine. ’And my good name is very important to me.’



He’s not kidding. Names that draw the gushing reactions that Kippin’s

does aren’t easy to come by. For some years now he’s been working

towards a lifetime achievement award as the most popular man in

publishing.



’He’s genuine, hard-working and one of the most naturally entertaining

people I know,’ says Liz Kershaw, who succeeded Kippin as publisher of

Cosmopolitan at the National Magazine Company. ’If he lived next door,

I’d leave my house keys with him,’ adds Terry Mansfield, Kippin’s mentor

during his long stint at NatMags.



Of course, in the publishing world personability can bring you far more

than eulogies from your ex-colleagues. In Kippin’s case, it’s a crucial

career tool. ’He’s got the ability to build great teams of people around

him and that’s a rare quality in publishing,’ Kershaw says. ’He’s also

got a huge range of individual contacts, which doesn’t half help if

you’re starting something new.’



Much of Glamour’s buzz has centred around the suitability of Kippin for

the title. He’s considered a veteran of a tricky publishing field,

having built his reputation at the reins of NatMags’ mid-market women’s

glossies.



For a while he seemed a natural choice to succeed Mansfield as managing

director. But the deputy MD role was given to Duncan Edwards and Kippin

left, re-emerging two months ago to research the launch of Glamour.



All of which begs a rather awkward question. Mansfield may trust Kippin

with the keys to his house but he didn’t trust him with his magazine

company.



Why not? Could it be that Kippin’s undeniable charm could only carry him

so far? Is there a question-mark about how much lies beneath it?



If there is, then a successful Glamour launch would allay the doubts

once and for all. It’s a considerable challenge. The magazine is one of

four mainstream women’s titles launching in the next 12 months, with BBC

Worldwide’s Eve and Gruner & Jahr’s Project Florence set for the autumn

and a UK version of InStyle due from Time Inc next spring. All this in a

market that shrank by 5 per cent last year. Kippin, though, is strictly

upbeat about the strengths that his new title enjoys.



’There’s been a lack of real innovation in the women’s market for some

time and Glamour brings readers a genuine point of difference,’ Kippin

says.



’A strong element of that will be its humour, which has been lacking in

women’s titles. We’ll also provide beauty and fashion coverage that’s

practical and attainable and doesn’t leave the reader behind.’



Kippin is also bullish about the size of Glamour’s potential readership,

talking of expanding the borders of the women’s monthly market rather

than cannibalising other titles’ readers. ’There are six million women

in Glamour’s broad catchment area,’ he says. ’Many of those are reading

weeklies like Hello! that cost almost as much as a monthly. We can

expand the marketplace to draw them in.’



That might be easier said than done. Even if the women’s monthly market

were to suddenly reverse direction and expand, it’s unlikely Kippin will

have all the new readers to himself. The publishers behind Eve and

Project Florence talk the same talk of new-found humour and attainable

fashion. Glamour’s international pedigree, which Kippin picks out as

another strong feature, will be matched by that of InStyle, an

advertising phenomenon in the US. Mansfield himself picks out its launch

as ’a challenge to us all’.



None of this is lost on Kippin.



Beneath his easy confidence, he seems to be readying himself for a

dogfight if necessary. That’s something that should give his many

supporters real heart.



’Some magazines do very well with advertisers despite their lack of

numbers,’ he says, noting that InStyle’s circulation trails Glamour’s in

the US.



’You can grab advertisers’ attention and become fashionable, but

fashions change and advertisers can move on very swiftly if the numbers

aren’t there.’



Kippin doesn’t intend to mess around in providing those numbers. He’s

set an ambitious circulation target of 200,000 for Glamour’s first

year.



But he’s also set aside a marketing budget to match it, with pounds 5

million earmarked for the first 12 months.



’The budget allows for heavy spend over the first four years,’ he

says.



’I want advertisers to be convinced from the start that we’re putting

our whole weight behind this. I want them to know that I’m serious.’

After all, Simon Kippin’s good name is on the line.



THE KIPPIN FILE

1971

J. Walter Thompson, media planner

1975

JWT Toronto, media supervisor

1975

IPC Women, sales executive

1984

The National Magazine Company, Company, ad manager

1986

Company, ad director

1987

Company, publisher

1989

Cosmopolitan, publisher

1997

Good Housekeeping, publishing director

2000

Conde Nast, Glamour, publisher



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