N&S launches title to take on Now and Heat

Northern & Shell, the publisher of the Express and OK! magazine, is to launch its new weekly celebrity-focused title on 20 February.

The magazine, provisionally titled Wow!, will take on Emap's Heat and IPC's Now with a lower cover price of 60p and an initial print run of around 700,000.

Wow!'s launch will be backed by a heavy TV advertising campaign. Creative is thought to have been developed in-house.

Northern & Shell hopes the title's low price, compared with £1.45 for Heat and £1.10 for Now, will appeal to its main target audience of ABC1 women in their late 20s. Editorial is likely to contain a blend of news and beauty features with a strong emphasis on celebrity.

The publisher, which is also about to take on Associated Newspapers with the launch of its London evening title Evening Mail in March, has yet to announce who will edit Wow!.

While press buyers welcomed the Wow! launch, some questioned if it could rival the circulations achieved by the more established titles.

Mark Gallagher, the head of press at Manning Gottlieb OMD, said: "I'm not 100 per cent convinced that there is a gap in the market. But Richard Desmond is really stirring up the market. This can only be good."