MEDIA: LOADED - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Tom Wilkinson views Loaded's barely noticeable revamp as a bid by IPC to boost its ad sales

If I hadn't been asked to comment on Loaded's revamp, I probably

wouldn't have even noticed the changes. But if you look really closely,

you'll see this month's issue has had a facelift.



The original lads' mag has tucked away some of the boring bits that

nobody ever read and, they claim, enhanced the stuff you really like -

women and sex. Why? Well, IPC must surely be concerned with a decline in

sales that produced a 13 per cent drop at the last round of ABCs. Quite

how you can recapture the "glory days" by merely adding a new typeface

and redesigning parts of the editorial layout, I'm not too sure.



The changes are superficial. Indeed Loaded's editor, Keith Kendrick,

admits that they are barely recognisable. All the old favourites remain

pretty much in the same place. The Rogue section remains the opener,

Pornalikes retains its position at the front of the mag, and dancers

from the Torture Garden are still "Getting Away With It" in the review

section at the back. It's just they've all got newly designed titles

now.



Such minor cosmetic alterations do give the impression that IPC is not

too sure why Loaded lost sales over the past year, but surely a

modernised look and apparently more naked women and sex can't do any

harm? However, the amount of space devoted to these appears to be the

same as any other issue from the past couple of years. A page here, a

page there.



This seems like an inexpensive tinkering around that will, more than

likely, be used to persuade advertisers that Loaded remains an ideal

environment to target 17- to 25-year-old blokes, even in times of

recession. If the magazine does harbour dreams of a return to its

trail-blazing, high-profile persona of the mid-90s, then advertisers are

likely to be disappointed.



In its current format, Loaded doesn't stimulate nor shock in the same

way any more. It's not a new concept.



If you look at the latest ABCs the only real success story in August was

the young pretender, Front, which has, to good effect, unashamedly

plastered Pammy, Spearmint Rhino's "entertainers" and Jakki, 23, from

Staffordshire, from cover to cover. So perhaps this was the reason for

the promise of more sex and women in Loaded. I hope not. Loaded's

mission and the scope of its reader base has always been more

substantial than this.



A second consecutive loss of sales may see a revamp with some

intent.



If Loaded falls below the 300,000 mark next time around then IPC may be

forced to seriously address the tone and character of the magazine to

renew a bond with readers.



PUBLISHER IPC IGNITE!

Frequency: Monthly

Price: £3.50

Circulation: 305,444

Full-page colour ad rate: £9,670

Advertisers include: Trebor Mini Softmints (sponsor of the calendar

supplement), Top Man, Honda, First Sport, Boots, Sony, Calvin Klein



Topics