Media Headliner: Putting some fire into the belly of Eve magazine

Eve's Nic McCarthy is determined to turn the title from a 'quiet success' into the 'go-to' women's monthly.

Nic McCarthy, the new editor of Eve magazine, tells Campaign that she will add some "fire in the belly" to the title. And she certainly has a strong stomach. The former OK! editor once bravely conducted an interview with newlyweds David Gest and Liza Minnelli, while perched at the end of their matrimonial bed. "God only knows what they were doing under the covers," she says.

McCarthy, who was headhunted to New York to edit US Weekly after three-and-a-half years at the helm of OK!, takes on the monthly sector with the sensibilities of a weekly veteran, and a killer instinct for the newsstand and sales figures. But she looks almost certain to have her mettle tested.

She comes to Eve at a tough time for the women's monthlies market - they were down in the last set of ABCs and are forecast to take a hit in the next, while Emap's fashion weekly Grazia struts ahead, showing a 26 per cent gain in the first half of 2007.

McCarthy puts her choice of the Haymarket title over other bigger women's monthlies down to her strong identification with the magazine. "I turned 38 last month. I've got two young children, I love my job and I felt very much that Eve was for women like me and all my friends," she says.

Eve, while by no means a market leader, has been quietly successful since its launch in 2000. Its impressive debut saw it sell more than 130,000, and its circulation stayed in the ascendant in the following years. It easily overtook its rival She magazine, but since the relaunch of She, Eve's sales have been hit. In the last set of ABCs, its circulation had fallen by 4.7 per cent to 163,415.

McCarthy maintains she will not join the cover mounting/giveaway trend that is currently gripping the women's magazine market in an effort to bump up circulation. Neither are there plans for a reduction of cover price (Eve is priced at £3.30, the same as Red, but She is just £3). Instead, investment will be directed towards a redesign and a content overhaul.

"Distinctiveness" is the word that crops up time and again as Eve's latest editor outlines her strategy. Eve must stand out and be the "go-to" title for the successful fashion-conscious thirtysomething woman, according to McCarthy. She will fix the magazine's focus firmly on career women (with or without children), as opposed to working mums.

McCarthy says she learned a lot from Fiona McIntosh, the editor-in-chief of London Lifestyle titles at Emap, with whom she worked closely on projects before taking the Eve job. Especially about how to create a successful fashion brand. She aims to significantly raise Eve's fashion credentials, with a change in content and, agencies predict, more support for designer brands in the editorial.

Claudine Collins, the press director at MediaCom, revealed that any concerns she had about the direction of Eve after the former editor, Sara Cremer, left last year were alleviated when McCarthy was chosen to take over. "Nic is a fantastic editor and very well thought of in the industry. I warned her not to make too many changes because I love the magazine, but all her plans sound exciting," Collins says.

Not surprisingly, the former celebrity title editor will introduce more famous faces to the pages of Eve, but don't expect a transformation into an ersatz OK! magazine.

"I can understand that, coming from OK!, people could think that maybe Victoria Beckham is going to be on every cover of every issue. Definitely not. We will really be looking at who is the Eve celebrity, because that's important," McCar-thy says.

"One of OK!'s great strengths is that it knows exactly who its stars are, and we need to think about that more carefully here." She points to Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker as the perfect Eve women.

McCarthy asserts that the title's typical reader is an advertiser's dream. She is the premium consumer: wealthy, successful, the breadwinner in the family, and has a weakness for designer handbags. McCarthy argues Eve readers can afford to buy the luxury items that readers of pure fashion magazines can't. "The Eve woman is running the country," she says.

Dominic Williams, the press director at Carat, recognises that McCarthy's key mission is to attract more premium advertisers to the title. But, he warns, she will need to proceed with caution. "They will need to be careful that they do not alienate current readers by taking the fashion too upmarket," he says.

Investment will also be put into the magazine's digital presence. McCarthy and her team will be looking to create something that stands out online for the title, rather than just creating a digital version of Eve. She points to "Eve Weekend", a weekly e-mail bulletin sent to readers telling them about fashionable things to do at the weekend, as such an innovation.

After a slow start to the year for Eve, all eyes will be on its April issue, the first that McCarthy's editorship will have an effect on.

McIntosh believes that McCar-thy, whom she describes as "a lot of fun", will bring a welcome touch of dynamism to the monthly sector. "I think it will be extremely interesting to see what she will bring to Eve - how fast weekly skills can be applied to a mid-market monthly," she says.

Predictions of success for Eve in the wake of McCarthy's appointment abound. It is hoped, though, that this predicted success lasts a great deal longer than the average celebrity marriage.

THE LOWDOWN
Age: 38
Lives: North London
Family: Husband, Chris, son, Alexander, and daughter, Orla
Most treasured possession: My Irish heritage
Favourite book: Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
Favourite TV show: Californication
Motto: Happiness is good health and a bad memory