Archive for the ‘closures’ Category

A happy end to a magazine

February 3, 2016
Last issue of Amalgamated Press's War Illustrated on 8 February 1919

No sad ending: the last issue of Amalgamated Press’s War Illustrated on 8 February 1919. Allies from the Empire (to the left) and Europe are portrayed with a statue of Victory

The demise of a magazine is normally a sad time but note the cover line below this image on the front of War Illustrated from 1919: ‘The Happy End’. The cheery angle came about because this issue marked the end of the Great War after more than four years of slaughter. Also, the magazine was about to rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of closure with a different name – New Illustrated – the next week. In essence, it was being relaunched with a different name and editorial strategy under its editor JA Hammerton.

Alfred Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press had a winning team on its hands under Hammerton and the back cover ran his editorial ‘An end and a beginning’, along with an order coupon for the next issue. Yet, relaunching a magazine is always a challenge – keeping the established readership while attracting new buyers is very difficult.

John Hammerton was one of the most successful editors of his generation. He is best known for his work with Arthur Mee producing magazines and partworks that were then republished as some of the best selling books of the day. These included the Harmsworth Self-Educator, Harmsworth’s Universal Encyclopædia and the Children’s Encyclopaedia. In 1933, his Popular History of the Great War was published in six volumes. So, Hammerton set about the task of changing the editorial philosophy of War Illustrated from one of recording a war’s progress to creating New Illustrated as ‘a fascinating pageant of the living history of our own times’.

First, the changes were announced several weeks in advance with a competition to come up with a name for the relaunched magazine – and a tempting £100 prize. This was at a time when a soldier’s pay was about £1 a week, so such a fortune was great publicity. For a month, the back page ran its editorial focusing on the idea with introductions such as: ‘Some of my readers have asked me to help them think of a title for the successor to the War Illustrated … I am yielding to the requests that have reached me by giving a very brief outline of my scheme.’ (By ‘very brief’ Hammerton means the whole of the back page.)

The War Illustrated was launched to record the progress of the war in photographs and illustrations and was designed to be bound into annual volumes. The format was an A4-ish page size on newsprint. Each issue was 32 sides plus the covers (wrappers in the language of the day) and they were numbered sequentially: issue one, 1-32; issue two, 33-64, and so on. Later issues added a four-page centre section printed gravure, which gave a much better reproduction for photographs and raised the pagination to 36 plus 4.

New Illustrated kept to this format and initially looked little different. The volume strategy was still in place with the new title being seen as a ‘continuous sequel’ to War Illustrated. However, as the issues went on, the martial content was slowly decreased. In April, a marked shift took place with a switch to gravure covers. Hammerton announced:

there is nothing quite so costly as the photogravure process which the New Illustrated is introducing for the first time to popular British journalism

Very good artists were always used, such as Harry Rodmell and Francisco Sancha, and the photographs would have looked amazing at the time. May saw a woman on a cover – Lady Diana Manners dressed as Britannia. Manners was one of the leading socialites of the day, and is better remembered today under her married name of Lady Diana Cooper (or as the great aunt of Tory prime minister David Cameron).

From June, the covers always showed women and colour was introduced with dazzling designs befitting the start of the Jazz Age and illustrations by artists such as Billy Bunter illustrator Leonard Shields and photographs by Lallie Charles – who, with her sister Rita, was one of the most successful portraitists of the early 1900s. The women portrayed were shown in the latest fashions, or at parties or at play in the snow, or using the latest technology in the form of the telephone.

New Illustrated starts to change its name to Record Weekly in 1920 (January 17 issue)

New Illustrated starts to change its name to Record Weekly in 1920 (January 17 issue)

However, depression set in as the economy struggled to switch from wartime to peacetime thinking with millions of demobbed troops looking for work. So the start of 1920 saw another relaunch in progress. The masthead became ‘The Record New Illustrated Weekly’, though with the emphasis still on ‘New Illustrated’. With each issue, the emphasis changed until Record Weekly fully emerged from its chrysalis in March. However, the strategy failed and 20 March saw the last issue.

This might finally have been the end of War Illustrated, had not an Austrian painter called Adolph Hitler come along to give rise to World War II. Hammerton – by then Sir John Hammerton – dusted off the War Illustrated strategy and the magazine rose again to record that conflict in a similar way.

EF Skinner's signature on the War Illustrated illustration (8 February 1919)

EF Skinner’s signature on War Illustrated (8 February 1919)

The illustration for the last issue of War Illustrated is by Edward Frederick Skinner, whose works are held by both the Science Museum and the Imperial War Museum. These paintings all depict industry and factories harnessed to the needs of war, but Skinner was a varied and sought-after artist, as the Father Christmas image and the lengthily titled ‘High Priest Coifi riding up Goodmanham Lane to smash the Idols‘ from Little Treasure Island by Arthur Mee (Hodder & Stoughton, 1920) show. The much-enlarged signature here also highlights the crude tones produced by letterpress printing as compared with modern colour lithography.

The slow death of the weekly magazine

December 19, 2015
Declining sales for general weekly magazines

Declining sales for general weekly magazines

The war years were a fantastic time for the photography-based general weekly magazines and their high sales continued into the start of the 1950s, as this chart from the Financial Times in 1959 shows (April 16, page 10). Just these four titles – Picture Post, Illustrated, Everybody’s and John Bull – had a combined sale of about 4.5 million copies a week. That is a staggering figure by today’s standards.

Television was gaining a foothold in Britain’s households and, as the chart shows, first Picture Post and then Illustrated folded. Everybody’s also was not long for the world, merging into John Bull in 1959. A year later, John Bull relaunched itself as Today, but that only delayed fate and it was subsumed by Weekend in 1965.

The BBC took away readers and from 1955 commercial television took away both readers and advertisers. Magazines still had a monopoly on colour advertising over newspapers and television, but then the Sunday Times launched its colour supplement in 1962 and colour TV appeared in 1967, with Britain becoming the first country in Europe to offer regular programming in colour – four hours a week on the BBC. Two years later, both the BBC and ITV were regularly broadcasting in colour and 12 million households owned a colour TV set by the early 1970s.

These TV and newspaper trends saw off other weeklies, such as Tit-Bits and Weekend in the 1980s. It’s been a similar story for women’s weeklies.  In 1959, market leader Woman was selling 3.2 million copies a week, alongside three other titles over the 1 million mark; today it’s less than a tenth of that at about 250,000. Of course, new titles have come along with market leader Take a Break was selling 1.2 million in 1990; today its ABC sale is half that figure.

>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016, V&A Publishing)

 

When magazines dropped like flies

October 24, 2015
Recycling paper in the war, as shown on the cover of Everywoman magazine in January 1942

Recycling paper in the war, as shown on the cover of Everywoman magazine in January 1942

It’s been a dire few years for the big magazine publishers with many closures. Yet, things could be worse – as they were soon after the outbreak of the Second World War. Just as householders ripped out their iron railings and every scrap of metal was collected up for the war effort, so was paper.

People went around recycling their magazines and newspapers – as portrayed in this Everywoman cover by Clixby Watson from 1942. Even local libraries donated their bound volumes. Another form of recycling was reusing – the public was encouraged to hand their old magazines in to Post Offices so they could be sent out to the troops, as had happened in the Great war.

By 1942, the amount of paper publishers could use was reduced to a fifth of what it was before the war! Page sizes were reduced, print runs reduced, the number of pages cut and weeklies became fortnightlies, but even this was never going to be enough.

So titles had to close. And dozens of them did. You can see a clue as to what was happening below the title on this cover Woman’s Pictorial cover from 1940:

Woman's Pictorial magazine cover from 1940 -wartime rationing had already started to bite

Woman’s Pictorial magazine cover from 1940 – wartime rationing had already started to bite

And this one,

London Opinion magazine's cover from September 1940 reveals that another magazine has closed

London Opinion magazine’s cover from September 1940 reveals that another magazine has closed

And another.

And even Tatler has swallowed upon of its venerable rivals. This issue is from 1943 but the takeover took place in October 1940

And even Tatler has swallowed upon of its venerable rivals. This issue is from 1943 but the takeover took place in October 1940

Home Journal, The Humorist and Bystander. Just three examples of the many magazines that were closed by publishers in just six months so they could meet their paper ration. And, look back above at the Everywoman magazine cover and you’ll see it had swallowed Woman’s Fair. There’s a particular poignancy in the loss of the Bystander, for that was the magazine that introduced Bruce Bairnsfather’s Old Bill cartoons – a great morale booster during the Great War.

Time turns NME into a freesheet

July 7, 2015

The image used to head the NME freeesheet  announcement The image used to head the NME freeesheet announcement

The message from Time Inc UK, the US-based  owner of what was IPC, came out as gobbledegook:

Iconic brand NME today announces the latest stage in its evolution as an audience-first global media business. As well as a new nme.com and digital products, in September NME will become a free weekly magazine. With music firmly at the heart of the brand, NME’s authority will be the gateway into a wider conversation around film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology.

According to Marcus Rich, chief executive:

This famous 63 year-old brand was an early leader in digital and has been growing its global audience successfully for the best part of 20 years. It has been able to do so because music is such an important passion and now is the right time to invest in bringing NME to an even bigger community for our commercial partners

NME was a digital pioneer for IPC, as both a driver of the Unzip CD-Rom and one of the company’s first websites, alongside New Scientist and Uploaded.com (who remembers that?). It is the last survivor of the ‘inkies’ – the tabloid weekly music papers that once numbered Melody Maker (which dated back to the 1920s and put a toilet roll on its last cover), Melody Maker, Disc, Record Mirror and Sounds – and sold in their hundreds of thousands.

Has such a freesheet strategy ever gone well for the magazine that started it all?

 

Kylie and Jason – the glory days of Smash Hits

May 29, 2015
The best-selling issue of Smash Hits magazine on 30 November 1988  with Kylie Minogue  and Jason Donovan on the cover

The best-selling issue of Smash Hits magazine on 30 November 1988 with Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan – ‘the most famous “couple” in the world’ – on the cover

One of the frustrations of writing a book about the history of magazines is what has to be left out. Smash Hits is one of those great titles that, in the end, has just snuck into the book with one cover and a couple of other mentions. Smash Hits is well gone now, having lasted for 28 years after its 1978 launch by Nick Logan, but its power as a teen icon lives on – just look at the Facebook fan site Smash Hits Remembered.

It carved a place in the hearts of millions of teenagers – in Australia and America as well as Britain – with scurrilous gossip, song lyrics, posters, stickers and free gifts. In February 2006 – just after Emap had announced the title’s closure – a first issue of Smash Hits sold on Ebay for £30. The seller, Ruth, summed up the magazine’s appeal: ‘Smash Hits was the best pop magazine of its time. I used to buy it regularly from about the age of 8 to 13. I remember tearing out the posters to cover my walls and singing along really girlie to the songs.’ At its 1988 peak, Smash Hits sold a million copies of the Kylie/Jason covered issue dated 30th of November. Its average issue sales for the second half of 1988 jumped almost half over the first six months to 767,540 copies.

These days, it’s the retiring baby-boomers of the 1950s who rule the economic roost in Britain, with their property-based wealth and political voting power, but in the 1980s, it was the number of teenagers that was booming, and no magazine publisher caught that wave better than Emap with Smash Hits.

Pete Waterman as music magazine columnist The Hitman!That November 1988 issue coincided with the release of the single ‘Especially for You’ from Neighbours-actors-turned-pop-stars Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. The phenomenon of the Aussie soap opera was exploited by Stock Aitken Waterman – pop impresario Pete Waterman with song-writers and musicians Matt Aitken and Mike Stock – in a year that saw the recently-formed music producers dominate the charts. Pete Waterman is known to today’s TV audiences as a former judge with Simon Cowell on Pop Idol and Popstars. In 1988, he was also The Hitman!, a columnist on Number One – a rival magazine to Smash Hits. ‘Especially for You’ was a single from Donovan’s first album Ten Good Reasons and he would go on to eclipse even Kylie’s record sales in the next year (though he has lacked her staying power).  But Stock Aitken Waterman had already made 19-year-old Kylie Minogue one of the biggest successes of 1988.

It's Kylie!!! Neighbours soap star Minogue is reborn as a pop star on her first cover for Smash Hits magazine in (7 July 1988)

It’s Kylie!!! Neighbours soap star Minogue is reborn as a pop star on her first cover for Smash Hits magazine (7 July 1988). Note the exclamation marks – Smash Hits was renowned for them!

Neighbours had been one of the most popular television programmes for two years and, although I raised the possibility of spinning off a magazine from the soap opera with BBC executives, the fact the British broadcasts were months behind the first Australian showings stymied the idea. Minogue’s fame allied to the skills of Stock Aitken Waterman saw her debut single ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ at number 1 for weeks – a feat it repeated around the world. Her other releases in 1988 – ‘Got to Be Certain’, ‘The Loco-Motion’ and ‘Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi’ all reached the top 5 and the album Kylie dominated that chart for six weeks.

Smash Hits had it all covered. The May 18 issue had Kylie Minogue as one of its three posters in the centre (Five Star and A-Ha’s Morten Harket being the others). The issue also printed the lyrics to Kylie’s ‘Got To Be Certain’. Climie Fisher was on the front cover and Dirty Dancing actor Patrick Swayze was on the back.

The issue of 27 July ran its first Minogue cover – ‘It’s Kylie!!!’. For  20 September, there was another Kylie poster. The issue of 19 October carried Kylie on the front for the second time – ‘It’s … Smylie Minogue!!!’ was the cover line. November 2 had centre posters of Kylie and Michael Jackson.

It's ... Smylie. Kylie Minogue on the cover of Smash Hits magazine in October 1988

It’s … Smylie Minogue!!! Kylie Minogue on the cover of Smash Hits magazine in October 1988 (eight exclamation marks on this cover!)

Incredibly, amid the Kylie phenomenon, Stock Aitken Waterman also had hits with Mel & Kim, Sinitta, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Hazell Dean and Brother Beyond. They were known as the ‘Hit Factory’ and BBC radio ran a recent programme with that title in its Reunion series, which is still available on BBC iPlayer. Donovan had also reached the top 5 with ‘Nothing Can Divide Us’, so the pairing of the Neighbours duo in ‘Especially for You’ was a sure-fire hit.

The single was pitched into a battle for the lucrative Christmas number 1 against Cliff Richard’s ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ – 1950s rock ‘n’ roller versus 1980s soap stars. However, even though the release of  ‘Especially for You’ coincided with Kylie and Jason’s on-screen Neighbours wedding, the pop veteran who had seen his first hit in 1958 with ‘Move It’ won out with the biggest-selling song of 1988. However, ‘Especially for You’ did top the charts in the new year.

The Guardian has listed Donovan as one of its ‘pop casualties of the 1980s’, saying:

Before [in their Neighbours hey-day, with a cheesy photo of him with Kylie]: He was Scott to Kylie’s Charlene in the Aussie soap in the 80s, and later her boyfriend in real life. In 1990 he won Best Male Solo Singer and Worst Male Solo Singer at the Smash Hits Awards.
After [2000, with shaven-headed photo]: He is now a father of two and reportedly has found happiness with long-term girlfriend Angela Balloch.

Smash Hits may be gone – sales were down to 120,000 copies an issue when it closed in 2006 – but it is not forgotten. There are even two books about it – the 2006 Best of Smash Hits by former editor Mark Frith, and Pop Life (2011) by three former writers and editors of the Australia edition. The best-selling issue in Oz was also in 1988, with a Bon Jovi cover for the 30 November issue. That sold 150,000 copies.

Profile of British music magazines 

British teen magazines

 

The fall of the lads: Loaded and Clarkson

April 1, 2015
The May 1994 first issue of Loaded - a landmark title under James Brown

The May 1994 first issue of Loaded – a landmark title under James Brown

There’s a certain irony that Loaded, the magazine credited with sparking the lad’s mag boom under editor James Brown, announced it was closing last month, just as the BBC drew the curtains on Jeremy Clarkson’s tenure fronting Top Gear. Loaded  is closing, with the last issue, dated April,  published on March 26.

Loaded was launched by IPC (now Time UK) with the strap line ‘For men who should know better.’ It seems incredible now, but Loaded and its arch rival FHM once shifted more than a million copies a month between them. The better-selling, babe-infested FHM even topped Cosmopolitan, then the best-selling women’s  monthly, in the sales stakes.

An in-your-face spread from Loaded in May 1995

Influential design: an in-your-face spread from Loaded in May 1995

And Loaded was not just influential in its sector, it rode the wave of irreverence led by Viz (1979) and TV series such as Men Behaving Badly  (1992) to help pave the way for the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and the BBC’s TV mega-hit Top Gear (2002). Emap furthered the trend not just by buying up and relaunching the 1985-founded FHM but also by bringing out Minx in 1996 – ‘For girls with a lust for life’. Furthermore, Loaded‘s design attitude spread throughout the magazine industry, both in the UK and overseas.

However, IPC sold Loaded in October 2010 to Vitality. Although its sales once regularly exceeded a quarter of a million, IPC offloaded Loaded as part of a sale of several ‘niche’ titles. In truth, Loaded had been dead on its feet for a long time, the latest in a line of lad’s mags to bite the dust. Yet, they helped expand the mainstream men’s magazine sector, which is now more vibrant than at any time.

At the lads’ end of things, the two survivors are Bauer’s monthly FHM – selling about 75,000 copy a month, a tenth of the total at its peak in the mid 1990s – and the weekly Zoo, selling 30,000.

It just seems a shame that, even as Clarkson goes out with a bang, the equally loud-mouthed Loaded is going out with a whimper.

Statist: a magazine worth quoting

October 18, 2014
Statist magazine from February 1967

Statist magazine from February 1967

The editors at small-circulation magazines are always happy when big papers pick up their stories, so economics weekly  Statist magazine would be chuffed to be referred in the Financial Times (several of these articles also ran in MoneyWeek):

Here’s a quote from the (generally rightwing, and prone to long sentences) Statist magazine from 1962 which sums things up the feeling then, and rather my feeling now: “In an era when the government appears to find itself obliged to tax an individual’s current earnings so highly that it is difficult if not impossible for the industrious able and thrifty person to save a substantial amount of money for himself, it is very wrong that another person who may well be idle, stupid and spendthrift should be in a position to receive a fortune by gifts or inheritance virtually without paying tax at all. (‘Cameron should scrap IHT threshold,’ 5 April 2014)

A long sentence indeed : 76 words. And also this year:

The great swings in the relationships between the likes of profit shares and labour shares take decades to play out. Look back to press reports from the 1960s and you will see many of the same kinds of articles you see in the papers today – in 1963 the (generally rightwing) Statist magazine insisted that a new minimum wage policy was a must and that government was “irrevocably committed to doing something for the low paid”. (‘Workers of the world will unite,’ 8 February)

While last autumn,

In the mid-1960s an article in the Statist magazine explained to London readers that the tax would “reverse the trend of soaring land values and reduce housing costs”. The writer was sure that support for [a site value tax] was such that “a concerted effort at this stage should carry the day”. It did not. But the idea has remained. (‘The perfect tax?,’ 28 September)

That same month:

In 1967, Paul Bareau, an eminent journalist of the era, wrote in the Statist magazine about the “pangs of modest deflation” hitting the UK. He called for “re-expansion” via all the usual methods – low base rates, a “lenient attitude” towards the commercial banks and a new round of government support to various industries. That worked out, as it likely will this time, all too well. By 1970, a mere three years later and well before the oil price shocks, inflation in the UK was running at about 8 per cent. Whoops. (‘A bad day at the office for Mark Carney,’ 7 September 2013)

You’ll notice the pattern by now:

A row raged in the pages of the Statist magazine in the early 1960s after “distinguished chartist” AG Ellinger declared that in the idea that the stock market would keep their money safe, “the public has been sold a pup”. (‘Ross Goobey’s speech resonates 50 years on,’ 10 November 2012)

Yes, it’s back in the sixties again:

‘Back in 1962 most European bankers were mad for monetary union. They were planning for it and seeing it, as Statist magazine said at the time, as “part of the writing on the wall”’ (‘In spite of debt crises, Germany is in the zone, 4 December 2010)

And again:

‘This outperformance isn’t a new thing … Statist magazine noted that in the decade to 1967 the average trust made 175% even as global markets returned a mere 75%.’ (‘Cheers for the product, boos for the charges,’ 2 October 2010)

And, for my last example:

‘You will not have heard of Mr F.M. Osborn. However, I feel I know him rather well. Why? Because I have a copy of an article he wrote in … The Statist.’ (‘Liars’ self-cert charter could have a bitter result,’ 25 September 2010)

In fact, FT Money writer and MoneyWeek editor Merryn Somerset Webb has sought inspiration or evidence from Statist no less than eight times in four years in her FT articles. It’s just a shame that the Statist, which looked like the Economist, closed several decades ago. But, then, what goes around comes around in the world of finance and a good article is always worth quoting, even if it is 50 years old.

News magazines profiled

Time UK closes TV Easy

September 28, 2014
What's On TV and TV Easy

Dummy cover of merged What’s On TV and TV Easy

Time Inc has marked the killing off of the IPC name with two changes. First is the closure of its compact TV listings weekly TV Easy, with some features of the magazine being taken on by What’s On TV, its best-selling TV guide. The first combined issue will be on sale on September 30.

As is typical in such mergers, What’s On TV will carry a cover flash to highlight the changes and try to retain TV Easy‘s readers. The merged magazine will also be given a design ‘makeover’.

Woman and Home Fashion magazine

First issue cover of twice-yearly Woman and Home Fashion magazine (autumn/winter 2014)

The second change is better news, with the launch of the third Woman & Home spin-off, a twice-yearly fashion glossy for the magazine’s over-40 readers. Woman & Home Fashion joins Feel Good Food and Feel Good You, covering health and wellbeing.

TV magazines history

WATCH OUT for my book on British Magazine Design from the V&A

Woman magazine, a ghost and an omelette

September 17, 2014
Woman magazine cover 1904

Woman magazine from 1904 with a cover design by Septimus Bennett, younger brother of Arnold Bennett, the Potteries novelist and the magazine’s former editor

This magazine cover from 1904 is from an earlier title to use the name Woman than today’s IPC / Time weekly (which only dates back to the Odhams launch of 1937).

The cover design for this ‘high class penny paper for ladies’ was by Septimus Bennett. A book, Artist in Arms, was published in 2001 and is based on the diaries of a Septimus Bennett when he was working at a Vickers shell factory in Sheffield during the First World War. At first glance, it would seem to be an unlikely link between this Septimus and the cover designer, but it looks like they were the same man – and he was the youngest brother of the Arnold Bennett – voted greatest West Midland writer in 2005.

While Arnold is best known for his ‘Five Towns’ novels, based on the six Potteries towns, he started out as a writer in magazines. He won a literary competition in Tit-Bits – the best-selling magazine of the day – in 1889 and five years later became assistant editor of the Woman. This probably explains how brother Septimus got the job drawing the magazine’s cover. Arnold began writing fiction serials, which resulted in A Man from the North in 1898 and he became Woman’s editor in that year. He stepped down in 1900 to write full-time, including The Grand Babylon Hotel (1902), serious criticism and theatre journalism. He wrote a column in London’s Evening Standard in the late 1920s.

Nigel Slater has a recipe for Omelette ‘Arnold Bennett’, a standard dish at the Savoy in The Strand. His advice: ‘Stick with the classic interpretation unless you want the wrath of Arnold Bennett’s ghost upon you.’ Delia Smith also has a version and reckons that Bennett wrote the whole of his novel Imperial Palace (1930) while staying at the Savoy.

Septimus was an artist and designer and ran a studio in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, where he produced designs for ceramics. His cover incorporates advertising for P&P Campbell, the Perth Dye Works, which was a prominent advertiser in magazines and on hoardings. The typeset copy includes quotes from two other magazines: ‘Oldest and best dyers, Myra’s Journal’; and ‘Excellent dyers, The Lady’; the latter is still published from office in London’s Covent Garden.

Woman was printed by Unwin Brothers at 27 Pilgrim St in London for the publishers Beeton & Co. The company had been founded by Samuel Beeton and produced several famous and groundbreaking titles, including the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, Boy’s Own, Myra’s Journal and Queen. The first off these spun off the famous Mrs Beeton’s Cookbook, which was compiled from her work on the magazine. Note the cover credit: edited by Mrs C.S. Peel (the original Avenger?). Dame Deborah Primrose replied to readers’s queries. About a dozen contributors are named, all but one a woman. Several fashion illustrations are credited to Rene Robinson.

The editorial offices were at 10-11 Fetter Lane, a thoroughfare that is an essential stop on any Fleet Street tour, having been the base for many publishing enterprises, such as Railway Magazine (no 30 in 1901), the Daily Mail (no 110 in 1920-61), DC Thomson’s Red Letter for the Family Circle (no 12 in 1950) and Jocelyn Steven’s Swinging Sixties version of Queen (no 52). It is also the site of a statue of John Wilkes, a radical journalist and rebellious politician in the late 1700s.

Woman describes itself as ‘A journal of information, entertainment and practical counsel for womankind the wide world over’ on its frontispiece page and closed in 1907, a run of 19 years.

 

Hearst closure of Dutch ‘Red’ – and cash cow thinking

May 27, 2014
Heart Magazines Nederlands has decided to stop the women's lifestyle glossy magazine Red from the June 2014 edition

Heart Magazines Nederlands has decided to stop publishing the women’s lifestyle glossy magazine Red from the June 2014 edition

Big consumer groups such as Unilever have occasional culls of their brands – in 1999, it sold two-thirds of its products! The theory is that you focus your money and management on the strongest brands and sell off smaller ones. In the jargon invented as part of the Boston matrix, companies should milk the cash generated by their ‘cash cows’, to spend on their ‘stars’ and ‘question marks’, while closing down the ‘dogs’.

The decision by Heart Magazines Nederlands to close women’s monthly lifestyle magazine Red is an example of that sort of thinking. It also demonstrates the global strategy of the US parent company.

The June 2014 edition will be the last, with the Dutch press reporting that Hearst saw a lack of interest among advertisers for the glossy monthly. So, Red had become a ‘dog’. However, the Dutch subsidiary also publishes Elle, undoubtedly a global ‘star’, and the closure frees up resources for that title. More importantly, Hearst Magazines Netherlands is launching a Dutch edition of Harper’s Bazaar at the end of August. This ‘question mark’ is where the money will go.

Harper’s Bazaar was bought by Hearst in 1913 and is a core star title for the US publisher. In contrast, Red is an English licensed glossy, which was launched 10 years ago by Hachette in the Netherlands. The original Red was invented by Emap and Hachette Filipacchi as a joint venture in 1989. It coined the term ‘middle youth’ for its target market, with a focus on fashion, beauty, jewellery, interiors, food and travel, for women aged over 30.

In 2011, US group Hearst bought Hachette Filipacchi from French media group Lagardere. As a result, it changed the near century-old name of its UK offshoot, the National Magazine Company, to Hearst UK and closed veteran title She. Similarly, the Hachette name was changed to Hearst across the world. Another victim of magazine globalisation was in 2006 when Harper’s & Queen dropped the second half of its name – which had come about when Harper’s took over the 110-year-old Queen in 1970 – to match the Harper’s Bazaar name elsewhere.

At the heart of the thinking is the ability to sell the same name to international advertisers more easily.

The Dutch Red was selling 62,167 copies an issue in 2013, and was read by 174,000 readers (NOM). In the UK, Red‘s sales are a healthy 203,354, well ahead of both Elle (172,079) and Harper’s Bazaar (111,071). So in Hearst’s global strategy it is a cash cow – though that may mean it can be starved of investment and may eventually become a dog as other titles suck out its cash. While UK editions of Red can be bought on Amazon in the US – for an eye-watering $11 – Hearst is unlikely to launch it there.

Hearst editions of Red elsewhere need to keep looking over their shoulders.


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