Faced with a men’s magazine sector that is under pressure and your
first recorded drop in circulation, what would you do if you were the
editor of Maxim? Appoint a new art director and commission a ’redesign’
- straightforward stuff, I think.
Scrutinising this new look, which is revealed in the August issue, I
find that there’s no radical front-page revamp here, which doesn’t
greatly surprise me. The only clue to the new look is the subtle corner
flash on the front cover announcing the ’New Look Maxim - with added
refinement’ (and what could be more refined than Melanie Sykes doing a
spot of nude bathing, I ask you?).
To be fair, the magazine is much better in its signposting. The contents
page, which is now a two-page spread, is clearly defined by content
category (features, ladies, fashion, get a life, competitions etc). In
fact, it almost feels like a homepage - wouldn’t it be easier to click
on each category and go to the section you wish to see, rather than
thumbing blindly through the stuff you are not interested in?
For me, this is the main issue for the paper delivery of magazines - how
much time have we got to read magazines in this format especially when
there are already lots of new (and equally portable) ways of accessing
this type of personal content.
If you are going to read the magazine from cover to cover, the sections
’Reality’, ’We Want Answers’ and ’What She Wants’ have survived the
revamp but have a much more stylish feel to them.
It is also clear that the semi-clad female count has gone down which
will no doubt upset some of Maxim’s stalwart readers. The in-depth focus
on the ’tumbling Doritos girl’ has been swapped for what appears to be a
new type of dating forum, where you can find Lucy, aged 25, who is an
Aries, likes movies, roller-blading and blokes with lots of get up and
go. It’s very similar to Marie Claire’s ’Man of the Month’ page which
has been running for some time.
Overall, the revamped Maxim does have a more modern and sleek feel to it
and this, together with the commissioning of better photographers, will
no doubt broaden the magazine’s appeal to more sophisticated readers as
well as advertisers. It’s a successful short-term fix for a magazine
which has always been quick on its feet.
Clearly there are much bigger long-term issues for the magazine sector
as a whole as it cannot rely on paper-based delivery alone in a digital
world. But I’m running out of space, so I’ll save that debate for
another place and another time.
Publisher: Dennis Lifestyle
Price: pounds 2.90
Full-page ad rate: pounds 6,500
Advertisers include: Panasonic, Gillette, Peugeot-Citroen, Fuji Film,
Bud Ice, Magnum, Reebok.