There have been some radical relaunches in recent times. Andrew
Marr’s last cast of the dice at the Independent, for instance. The many
guises of what is now Liberty Radio for another. But the Eva relaunch,
planned for 26 February, is surely in a league of its own (Campaign,
Eva launched in September 1994 as a downmarket real-life story and
celebrity gossip magazine with a target audience of C2D women aged
between 20 and 44 and a target circulation of 300,000. It found the
desired audience, but didn’t manage to snare enough of them. Eva’s most
recent circulation figure was 216,575 (July-December 1997). To call it
ailing might be too strong, but it certainly wasn’t a star
The idea behind a relaunch is to tweak the editorial product so that it
appeals to greater numbers of its target audience. When IPC throws out
the Eva bathwater it also plans to jettison sink, bidet and shower unit
along with bath and baby.
Eva is to mutate into an upmarket glossy weekly aimed at 18- to
24-year-olds, particularly women in their late teens. It is, in short,
an entirely different magazine, one that is entering the older end of
the Sugar, Bliss, Mizz and J17 market. Bizarrely, though, the new
magazine will be bagged together with the last version of the old format
for the 26 February issue.
Does IPC really expect much cross-over readership? Is it trying to pull
off the ’attracting new readers without alienating the old’ gambit?
Jon Wilkins, the creative communications director of New PHD, is
’The two Evas are like Jekyll and Hyde. To me, this is odd portfolio
IPC should give the new title a different name and launch it from
scratch,’ he says.
IPC says the bagging strategy will make sure that there is no confusion
among existing Eva buyers. But it could go further than that - the
surprising fact is that Eva already has a substantial 18- to 24-year-old
readership profile. And Jackie Newcombe, the publishing director of
IPC’s women’s weeklies, says the editorial overlap is to be found in the
’true-life story’ element of the mix. ’Around 75 per cent of Eva’s
buyers are under 30 and I’m confident that 80 per cent of the
circulation can be retained. If you talk to readers - as we do - the one
thing that links young women in London who go clubbing and the woman
with kids in a housing estate up North is that they both want real-life
Which means that Eva’s triumph-over-adversity fare will become slightly
more streetwise (apparently self-mutilation stories score highly in
research) as opposed to mumsy. The relaunch will be backed by an
’enormous’ mailshot to 18- to 24-year-olds and a substantial promotional
campaign in prime retail sites.
IPC has always known it needs to address its performance in the teen
market. It continues to be an attractive sector - Sugar, after all, is
the country’s biggest selling women’s monthly. But despite recent
relaunches at IPC’s Mizz and 19, the titles still look rather tired,
according to agencies. This move, as Wilkins puts it, can certainly be
seen as a ’bold and radical’ attempt to address that problem.
As always, there is a theoretical gap that IPC believes it has
identified between the top end of the teen title market and raunchy
younger glossies such as Com-pany. Good theory. But is the strategy too
bold, too radical?
Nigel Conway, planning director of MediaVest, believes this is a
desperate move. ’If Eva wasn’t working, why didn’t it do something
sooner? The title was getting a bit grubby - now it is trying to leap to
the other extreme.
I’m amazed. I don’t think the glossy aspect is an issue. Eva won’t be
offering anything that isn’t on offer in the market already.’