NEWS ANALYSIS: Coals to Newcastle? Phoenix titles enter the glossy market - Can there be room for yet more upmarket women’s titles? Jim Curtis reports

Few would argue that the consumer magazine market is short of women’s lifestyle glossies, so IPC SouthBank’s pounds 3m re-launch of 60s ’style bible’ Nova and Emap Elan’s rumoured resurrection of Frank look like risky moves.

Few would argue that the consumer magazine market is short of

women’s lifestyle glossies, so IPC SouthBank’s pounds 3m re-launch of

60s ’style bible’ Nova and Emap Elan’s rumoured resurrection of Frank

look like risky moves.



The Nova launch is particularly audacious, as IPC can’t assume that the

20- to 30-year-old women in its target market have ever heard of the

original Nova, which folded in 1976. The comeback might generate

excitement in some corners of the style set, but this won’t give IPC

SouthBank much of a head start. For the most part, the publisher is

going to have to build the Nova name from scratch.



So, entering a crowded market with a long-forgotten brand -what’s IPC’s

game?



The publisher’s problem is that there is too much of a lifestage jump

between SouthBank’s three women’s titles - 19, Marie Claire and Women’s

Journal. Nova’s mix of edgy fashion and lifestyle features is designed

to stop IPC losing readers who want something different to these three

staples.



Colin Reeves-Smith, managing director of IPC SouthBank, says, ’It’s all

about needing spread. We have to have titles to hand on to our readers

as their lives change. If we don’t, we just give all that loyalty and

learning to a competitor.’



Also, with Marie Claire packing ads into 400-page issues, IPC can afford

to be bullish with advertisers. Nigel Conway, client services director

at MediaVest, which handles the Chanel account, says; ’You just have to

look at how well Vogue is doing to see that it’s a commercially sound

proposition.’ Conway argues that the magazine will help IPC SouthBank

appeal to more premium advertisers, building on the strong fmcg base it

has with existing women’s titles. Neil Ivey, director of Mediacom, which

looks after Procter & Gamble, says, ’I’m very keen to put our brands in

there. If it’s as good as the old one it stands a huge chance.’



Some of its potential competitors are more cynical about IPC’s motives

for re-launching Nova. Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Conde

Nast, says IPC is trying to make itself look sexy in preparation for a

flotation, rumoured to be on the cards for next year. ’They want to make

people think they are a dynamic company, launching lots of magazines,’

says Coleridge.



He also doubts Nova threatens his star title, Vogue. ’I’d be amazed if

IPC invests enough to give it the calibre of Vogue - they haven’t done

so before,’ he says.



Like the Monty Python parrot, Frank is not dead, but merely

’sleeping’.



Suspended since June, its acquisition from Wagadon by Emap was supposed

to herald its relaunch. But Emap faces a bigger battle bringing it back

to life than IPC does with Nova. For one thing, the magazine very

recently lost its editor, Harriet Quick, to Vogue, where she will be

fashion features editor.



Also, if Frank is to occupy the top end of the fashion sector, it will

be up against Vogue and that alone lessens its chances. Coleridge, for

one, doesn’t think Frank will be able to cut it: ’It’s too esoteric,

it’s underfunded and has the name of a lumberjack mag.’



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