SPOTLIGHT ON: IPC: Can IPC make a comeback in the teen magazines market? - Made Up! is the first sign of a new forceful strategy Alasdair Reid investigates.

Southbank Publishing Group’s ’new product development team’ sounds like a brilliant wheeze. It reeks of sitcom meets huge corporate tax write off - and in the perfect world it would involve intense and very long sessions in fashionable restaurants. Patsy and Edina would be consultants.

Southbank Publishing Group’s ’new product development team’ sounds

like a brilliant wheeze. It reeks of sitcom meets huge corporate tax

write off - and in the perfect world it would involve intense and very

long sessions in fashionable restaurants. Patsy and Edina would be

consultants.



And, in fact, the title of its first project may be a bit of a

giveaway.



Is Made Up! a bit self-referential? An in-joke? This could well be the

most perfect post-modern magazine title ever invented. And nostalgia

buffs will be pleased by the strategically placed exclamation mark -

very 80s!



All of which is of course extremely unfair. Made Up! is slightly more

mundane - it’s a fashion and beauty magazine dedicated to ’real reader’

makeovers. Before and after stories. It will be aimed at 16- to

24-year-olds but its core readership is skewed slightly towards late

teens. It will initially be a quarterly - perfect bound, glossy, 132

pages thick and priced at pounds 1.60. The first issue hits the

newsstands on 23 October.



Made Up! also promises to take an innovative approach to

advertising.



The first issue is sponsored by two advertisers - Burton Group and

Health and Beauty Solutions. It is not being sold to other advertisers.

If the experiment is successful, it may well be extended to future

issues. In effect, commercial communications opportunities on each issue

will be sold to two (maybe even one) advertisers.



Is this wise? That’s an academic question if the magazine doesn’t win an

audience. And over the last few years, IPC has lost the plot somewhat

when it comes to teen titles. Emap has long been dominant in this sector

but the last couple of years have seen Attic Futura make all the

running, relegating IPC to third place in the sector.



But something now seems to be stirring at King’s Reach Tower. The Made

Up! announcement comes in the wake of a pounds 1.5 million investment

programme to rejuvenate its two teen brands, Mizz and 19. Will Made Up!

work? Has IPC rediscovered the teen plot?



Heather Love, the publishing director of Southbank Group, obviously

believes it has. The role of the unit is not necessarily to sit around

trying to dream up bright ideas - it’s to assess all the good ideas that

tend to find their way into publishers’ in-trays.



She adds: ’This gives a focus for potential projects. It also means that

they can be investigated or developed without taking resources away from

existing titles.’



So it’s not surprising to hear that more development team-generated

projects are on the way. They’re not necessarily just in the teen

sector, but Love believes that IPC is now a force to be reckoned with in

this area once more. ’I can see Emap being a bit worried about this.

It’s had undisputed number-one position for so long. As far as Emap is

concerned, we’re sleeping giants - now it will start to realise it is

being squeezed by Attic Futura on one side and us on the other.’



Should Emap be worried?



Hilary Taylor, a director of Manning Gottlieb Media, is reserving

judgment on Made Up!. ’The danger in this sort of title is that it gets

a bit one dimensional. The strength of many titles is that they do each

subject very well but they cover about six or seven of them. Women of

whatever age like a basket of stuff. But this seems interesting in that

half of the makeovers are clothes - it owes a lot to the Clothes Show on

television.



’I think the most encouraging thing is the fact that it has turned

around this project so quickly. That’s very good news. IPC is usually

the last publisher you expect to be able to respond. It has this

incredibly enthusiastic team but in the past they never had the backing

from senior management.



I’m not sure about Emap being worried. It still comes across as

infinitely more aggressive than IPC.’



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