WORLD: MEDIUM OF THE WEEK - Rolling Stone gathers new fans in Italian market

The irreverent monthly is a mix of music and lifestyle, Stefania Medetti discovers.

"It's just because we're a bunch of crazy people that we are managing a magazine at our age," Michele Lupi, the 37-year-old editor of Rolling Stone's Italian edition, comments. He's quick to emphasise that it's unusual to have young editors in this market.

Wenner Media Inc has been publishing the magazine in the US since the 60s, but Italy received its own irreverent version at the end of October. The initial print run was 250,000, which sold out in a flash, requiring a second print run of 60,000.

The monthly's first issue was launched with a selection of five different covers, encouraging readers to collect them all. Angelina Jolie, Jimi Hendrix, Sid Vicious, Keith Richards and Marilyn Manson all graced its first covers. HHCL/Red Cell reproduced the covers in a poster campaign in Italy's main cities. Provocative headlines suggested that a magazine with attitude had arrived.

The magazine occupies previously uncharted territory between music and lifestyle. The target audience is predominantly 18- to 40-year-old males, with a core readership of 25- to 34-year-olds living in cities. The readers are interested in music, but not exclusively. "Rock and roll is a way of life," the marketing director, Tomasso Vincenzetti, suggests.

The editorial team is permitted to draw from Rolling Stone's international contents, although great attention is paid to adapting the magazine for Italian readers. "We want to write about local phenomena such as Subsonica or Frankie Hi-nrg," Vincenzetti says.

The magazine also possesses a healthy disrespect for market researchers, preferring to trust its own trends and instincts when it comes to determining content. "We leaned towards what we enjoyed the most. For instance, in the first issue we made old classical musicians listen to avant-garde music."

The magazine sections include: "Rock'n'roll" with news and miscellany, as seen through celebrity eyes. "Profiles" is a collection of surveys and articles inspired by the American edition. Meanwhile, the reviews, penned by well-known journalists, are in a section called "Consumption".

Advertisers have also welcomed the title: 80 pages out of the 228-page-long first issue were ads. "Readers are ready for a new product," Lupi, who helped to launch GQ in Italy in 1999, comments. "We are here to surprise them and to shake up the market."

Title: Rolling Stone

Publisher: Ixo Publishing

Frequency: Monthly

Cover price: 2.90 euros

Circulation: 180,000 copies (Italy)

Full-page colour ad rate: 7,500 euros

Advertisers include: Mini, Harley-Davidson, Armani, Dior, Heineken, Hugo

Boss, Virgin, BMG, Clear Channel, MTV and Radio Dee-jay

Main competitors: Rockstar, Tuttomusica, men's titles


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