MEDIA: REAL - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Rosie Faulkner takes a look at Real, the fortnightly women's glossy magazine from H Bauer

From the PR blurb I was quite excited about opening my copy of

Real. It all said 'me, me, me' - 'a magazine for intelligent reading

women, 25 to 40-plus ... marriage, children, work and home-making ...

brilliant writing and fascinating subject matter'.



Real is a beautifully produced magazine. It lives up to its glossy

intentions with great fashion and beauty pages. The models chosen are

attainable to the slightly older woman, the clothes range from

stylish-yet-sensible to outright glamorous and all at

mortgage-protecting prices.



Having said that, Real is a puzzle. A lumpy structure had me staggering

from page-long, in-depth articles into a few pages of fashion or

interiors.



Indeed, we are expected to move happily from 'Room to relax' (another

average room makeover) to 'Clinic of hope' - an NHS facility for women

who have a history of miscarriage. Call me old-fashioned, but I find it

helpful to know where I am in a magazine. There were also wild mood

swings: peppy little pages with cute ideas leading into depressing

articles on bulimia - a real PMT of a ride.



It all felt too much like She meets Take a Break. The emphasis on

real-life features - even termed reportage in the press release - should

be the differentiator that sets Real apart from the clutter. Julie

Burchill, the doyenne of contention, was promised, as was Kirsty Lang

(no shows?) - aha, I thought, something to rival the weekend review

sections but with women's interests at the heart of it. No such luck.

Take the usual triumph over tragedy stories from any weekly magazine,

shove in some longer words, change the pictures and bingo! If one is

going to set out one's stall as above, I expect sharp writing, greater

depth and some good old-fashioned journalism. Bin the home and garden

and devote time to challenging pieces: step on up, Ms Burchill.



A dearth of celebs will make Hello! and OK! comfortable, but when Radio

4 has psychologists recognising society's obsession with celebs as a

widespread phenomenon, this looks more like scrimping on editorial

costs.



Who will read it? I honestly don't know. It doesn't deliver on the

intelligent read, yet demands more than a flick-through to get any value

for money.



Lip service is paid to the multi-faceted lives of those they are

targeting but it all felt like a housewives' read to me - one to get to

once you've done with OK!. The magazine doesn't stand for anything: no

niche interests, no real delivery on its promise and will being

fortnightly work as a unique selling point? It all feels like half the

price of your average monthly for exactly that - half a monthly.



Publisher: H Bauer



Price: pounds 1.50



Frequency: Fortnightly



Print run: 900,000



Full-page ad rate: pounds 11,750



Advertisers include: Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, Suzuki, Avon, Persil,

Mars Bounty, Max Factor.



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