These days it’s almost impossible to buy a magazine that exists as
a standalone print product. In fact you’re generally buying into a
lifestyle brand that incorporates everything from a website to clothing
As the market fragments and sales either slump or remain static,
publishers seem to be seeking ever more bizarre ways of generating
A range of sportswear from Elle and a chain of FHM-branded clothing
stores may make sense. But a range of low-fat yoghurts from Cosmopolitan
does seem to be stretching the point.
The strand linking all these items is that they have evolved from
traditional media products. But with the launch of Emap Elan’s Escape
Routes, a new phenomenon emerges - the launch of a magazine as part of a
range of branded products. Escape Routes is a fully fledged travel
business in its own right.
Dawn Bebe, Elan’s women’s media director, admits that the magazine idea
came first. ’We realised that independent travellers might like a
one-stop shop where they could not only read about places, but also book
a holiday. From inspiration to transaction.’
So Escape Routes the magazine, the website and the direct phone booking
service came into being. Emap is promoting it as ’the first multi-media
launch’. There will undoubtedly be more.
’Emap sees itself as the multimedia company of the future,’ says
’We’ll look at different ways of servicing our audiences.’
The holiday booking service is a sensible idea; Escape Routes can make
money not only from traditional ad sales, but from banner ads and
commission on online bookings. However, if Elan genuinely wants to turn
the brand into a travel business, it will presumably move into guides,
luggage and even high street stores.
’There was talk of an Escape Routes rucksack,’ Bebe confirms. ’But it’s
early days and we want to establish the brand first.’
There’s no doubt that - in common with other publishers - Emap Elan is
taking the brand extensions business seriously. Only two weeks ago the
company announced that Stephanie White had been appointed to the new
role of brand director. She confirms that the standalone magazine may
soon become a thing of the past.
’In the future magazines will be used as brand platforms, eventually
becoming one spin-off of a whole range of products.’
Red Direct, which enables women to place telephone orders for products
that appear in the magazine, is already up and running. White calls this
development a ’magalogue’, something Dennis Publishing is also believed
to be considering.
But isn’t there a danger that the poor old magazine will be lost in all
the surrounding clutter? After all, if you can surf the website, wear
the clothes and eat the yoghurt, why bother reading the mag?
’I don’t think that will ever happen,’says White. ’It’s such a symbiotic
scenario. Elle, for instance, is a lifestyle badge for an entire group