Ella Dolphin, the publisher of Grazia, is finally playing ball. Sitting in a skylit office at the top of Bauer Media's HQ in Shaftesbury Avenue, she is prepared, after weeks of industry speculation, to show Campaign the dummy copy of the long-hatched weekly men's magazine Gaz7etta.
Dolphin unrolls the proofs like an ancient scroll and reveals what Bauer is betting will be a success in the vein of the women's glossy Grazia, which it licensed from the Italian publisher Mondadori five years ago. But she is keen to clear up one contentious issue.
Despite the involvement of the publisher and editor of Grazia, with the pilot issue stapled into next Tuesday's Grazia for the reader to give "to the man in your life", and despite the use of a similar Italian flourish in the name of the title, Dolphin is adamant that it is not "a Grazia for Him".
"Men don't want to read Grazia," the publisher says. She explains that the pilot distribution of 500,000 will be split between Grazia and selected retailers such as Topman and Reiss. "Half the distribution is not with Grazia, there's no association with it at all," she adds, somewhat unconvincingly.
The first issue of Gaz7etta will be produced from the same paper stock as Grazia. And, as well as being fashion-heavy like Grazia, the new title will focus on the news agenda, something Grazia famously adopted with its "Ten Hot Stories Of The Week", an item that took pride in telling its reader about an earthquake in Peru and a new stiletto in the same breath. As Grazia's flagship feature, "Ten Hot Stories" has even spun-off into the brand extension that is Grazia TV.
But Dolphin emphasises the formats of Grazia and Gaz7etta are different. "If you give men the ten hot items of the week, they're just not going to get it," she argues, stressing that Gaz7etta will be "much more newsy". This leads us to the publisher's new pool of potential coverstars, which include David Miliband and the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Gaz7etta is edited by Andy Pemberton, a former editor of Bauer's Q who has also edited the US music magazines Spin and Blender. Bauer's art director for Car magazine, Andrew Franklin, has designed the title, which includes a chunk of motoring content in the first issue. It is clear Bauer's existing male titles have informed the project. Dolphin jumps her cue: "Any brand we launch would be complementary to one another."
But what of Dolphin's credentials to launch a successful magazine? Until June, she had worked at Associated Newspapers for nine years, most recently as the head of magazines at Mail Newspapers. Starting as a sales executive, having cut her teeth in ad roles at Clear Channel and Admedia, Dolphin became the brand manager at The Mail on Sunday, working her way up to head of magazines for the paper. She looked after You magazine and helped to launch the male- focused title Live, before taking on the magazine role at Mail Newspapers, when the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday merged their advertising departments in 2008.
This year, Dolphin was headhunted for the role of publisher at Grazia, following Abby Carvosso's promotion from deputy managing director of the title to head of magazines at Bauer Media. News that Dolphin's boss, David Davies, is to leave his role as the managing director of Bauer Media's women's lifestyle and entertainment titles no doubt raises questions about Dolphin's future remit.
Dolphin's former boss Marcus Rich, the managing director of The Mail on Sunday, who coincidentally worked at Bauer before joining Associated, credits Dolphin as being integral to Associated's recent launch, You Inspire: "She's very sharp and quite feisty," Rich says. "She knows her way around the advertising market and has great contacts with the agencies."
Dominic Williams, the print director at Aegis Media, says of Dolphin: "The reason why she's doing so well is that she gives fantastic support to the editorial team. When you're working on magazines like You or Grazia, fashion advertisers want their credits. Ella gets it. She's commercially minded."
Judging by the half-a-million trial run, Dolphin and her team are confident they are tapping into a gap in the market for an upscale men's weekly. Unquestionably, a gap exists. The demise of the lads' mag, evidenced by recent double-digit drops in circulation for IPC's Loaded and Bauer's FHM, plus their weekly counterparts Nuts and Zoo, shows a thirst for something different in the male sector. And with the luxury titles GQ and Esquire showing growth during the recession, it doesn't take Einstein to figure that at least for now, premium is the way to go.
Carat is supporting the launch through its client BMW. Williams adds: "Ella came to me to show me the plans and I said: 'You're very brave.' It's a tough market. I think it will be successful, but I question whether it will have a circulation of half a million. I would have thought the market would be more like 200,000-300,000 (Grazia recorded 228,770 average net circulation in the latest ABC figures.)"
All of this indicates that Dolphin and her team are counting on the pilot's success, with the New Year penned in as the time to "further develop" if all goes well. Campaign asks if it is Bauer's "aim" to roll out the magazine weekly from January. Dolphin ends on the non-committal PR speak she opened with and states in a corrective manner that it is, rather, their "ambition".
Family: Husband, two beautiful children
Interests outside work: Exercise, alcohol and parks with the kids
Favourite TV programme: The X Factor (I can't help it!)
Wish I had more time for ... My children, always
Motto: You don't need to be tall to reach high places
Always in the fridge: Lemons, chocolate and cheese