MEDIA: VIVID - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Alex Lawson applauds Wella's bravery in putting its in-salon title Vivid on to the newsstands

At first glance it would appear that Vivid, the latest fashion, hair and beauty magazine, is like many of its competitors. Holly Valance stares out at us from the cover and the reader is enticed inside to find out about the "Starlet Chic" or "Modern Ethnic" looks this year. So which of the big publishers is sending a new title into the market? Emap? IPC?

The National Magazine Company? Why can't I remember the big ad campaign with outdoor everywhere and TV spots in Friends and ER?

Why? Because this is Wella's "in-salon" customer magazine. In a bold step, Wella has decided that from the June/July issue it is going to put Vivid into WH Smith's travel outlets, selected supermarkets and newsagents with a price of £3.20.

As a customer magazine that you can read in-store, Vivid is an excellent product. Great paper quality and photography give it a coffee table feel.

If you have actually put your hand in your pocket though, it may leave you slightly disappointed. Where other fashion glossies give a definite opinion in articles, Vivid presents the information well, with some lovely visuals, but does not want to commit to a definite viewpoint.

The Wella products are worked into the magazines subtly and skilfully; indeed you have to look carefully to find that the magazine is produced for Wella. Only by scrutinising the notes at the front can this be confirmed.

Some product placement, however, appears obvious. One example is the placing of a De Beers DPS immediately after the Holly Valance feature (Valance is accessorised with De Beers jewellery). Intentional or not this detracts from both the feature and the advertisement.

With a small print run (50,000) of which 11,000 will still be placed into Wella Salons, Vivid should pick up beauty clients' advertising as the majority of its business. Although there will be a high number of readers per copy of the in-store issues, media buyers will question the anticipated one million readership, the newsstand copies are unlikely to retain a level of 20 readers per copy. Vogue in comparison currently has 6.4 while Marie Claire can only claim 3.7.

Where Vivid may be able to pick up some extra business is in cross-selling - Vivid and Vivid TV, broadcast in Wella salons on plasma screens, which for some will be an attractive opportunity. Its other plus is its size; taller than most magazines it will certainly stand out at point of sale over normal-sized glossies.

The venture on to newsstands feels ambitious. A great customer magazine within its natural environment, Vivid may struggle on the shelf when asking fickle consumers to part with hard- earned cash.

Publisher: Communikator

Frequency: Bi-monthly

Cover price: £3.20

Initial print run: 50,000

Full-page ad rate: £9,000

Advertisers include: Wella, Tommy Hilfiger, Agent Provocateur


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