Men's weeklies will squeeze TV and national press

Phwoar! Girls, footy and telly, all in one weekly package. We're talking Nuts here, oh, and Zoo Weekly, the imminent weekly men's mag launches from IPC Media and Emap Consumer Media, writes Ian Darby.

And, judging from the dummy cover of Zoo Weekly, we're going back in time to a 70s world of Sid James leering at "birds" over the bar while nursing a pint and keeping half an eye on the gee gees. A world, of course, celebrated when IPC launched Loaded a decade ago and now enshrined in Emap's own lads' bible, FHM.

So nothing new then. Especially if you believe that most red-blooded men are already avid consumers of internet porn, daily sports pages and celebrity gossip.

Though IPC dismisses suggestions that Nuts is a "lads' mag", Emap seems to be unashamedly taking the FHM formula to a weekly audience. But, despite the apparent lack of innovation in broad content, the launches are ambitious, backed as they are by a combined marketing spend of close to £20m.

And advertisers are excited by the launches. The first six issues of Zoo Weekly, which goes on sale on January 28, have closed for advertisers. Agency sources say that Nuts has also sold all its ad space for early issues.

Not surprising, perhaps; agencies are always willing to try out new products, especially when they offer a way of reaching elusive young men.

More interesting, though, is the list of advertisers so far signed up. They include Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Dixons, names that don't usually feature in men's monthly titles, and evidence, perhaps, that IPC and Emap won't be cannibalising their monthly advertising base.

Dixons is an especially interesting case. It's rarely, if ever, deviated from its national press schedule, and has never used men's magazines before. Negotiations might have been smooth because Walker Media, Dixons' agency, is also handling media for the launch of Nuts but it's still an interesting departure.

And further evidence perhaps that key advertisers feel the need to look beyond press and TV to reach young men. The answer, of course, lies in cost -- both IPC and Emap are sure they're on to winners in advertising terms because they've both been exposed to the high costs of targeting men through TV in planning the launch campaigns.

If this market takes off, the losers -- on a small scale, at first -- will be the likes of Sky and the national press. But the big picture story will ultimately revolve around the circulation of the two titles. My bet is they'll both hit target (between 150,000 and 200,000 each). A relatively cheap cover price combined with heavy promotion and sampling will usually work (as Emap showed in 2002 with the launch of Closer). Let's just hope the magazines are more interesting than they sound.

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