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
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
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
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
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
Print run: 900,000
Full-page ad rate: pounds 11,750
Advertisers include: Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, Suzuki, Avon, Persil,
Mars Bounty, Max Factor.