Archive for the ‘emap’ Category

On this day in magazines: Grazia goes with Kate Moss in 2005

February 21, 2017


First issue cover of Grazia magazine, the weekly fashion glossy. The cover feature for the 2005 February 21, issue was Kate Moss saying she will never marry

First issue cover of Grazia magazine, the weekly fashion glossy. The cover feature for the issue is Kate Moss saying she will never marry

Emap set out to change the face of glossy fashion magazines with Grazia, a weekly glossy, on 21st February 2005. The idea of having the production values of the big fashion glossies on a woman’s weekly is not original, having been tried, in vain, by Home Journal in the 1930s, Riva in 1988 and Real in 2001.

Kate Moss is the cover model, with a newsy story about her views on marriage to provide the topicality – and the celebrity interest – a weekly needs today. Take a look at the Evening Standard, one of London’s free papers, these days and you’ll see there’s barely a story without a celebrity angle.

Inside, Grazia is printed gravure, which gives a silky feel to the matt paper pages, with lots of fluorescent yellow ink and black.

Grazia's contents page shows its signature colour, yellow

Grazia’s contents page shows its signature colour, yellow, with a Tod’s advert opposite

A large format and gravure is the formula that works for Grazia, now published by German-owned Bauer, attracting fashion advertising and selling an average of 117,597 copies of its 50 issues a year, at a cover price of £2 (89.8% purchased).

Grazia‘s success has helped gravure printing become more popular against offset litho, with Cosmopolitan switching over last year when its adopted its ‘midi’ format, and stopped printing at two sizes, handbag and A4. Condé Nast rival Glamour – which popularised the monthly handbag format when it launched – adopted a midi format (276 by 203mm) with its February 2017 issue, and has been printed gravure at Prinovis in Nuremberg, Germany, since 2004. Glamour sells 256,466 copies a month (91.4% purchased; now £1 on the news-stands, against £2 last year); and Cosmo 400,547 (77.7% purchased; £1 on the news-stands).

Bauer has a Grazia data page and Grazia media pack. See Grazia’s ABC sales certificate.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design




Smash Hits first issue is an eBay hit

June 6, 2016
Debbie Harry and Blondie on the first issue cover of Smash Hits from November 1978

Debbie Harry and Blondie on the first issue cover of Smash Hits from November 1978

Blondie was ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ all the way to the top 5 of the charts back in 1978 and that success was helped by Debbie Harry and the band being  on the front cover of the first issue of Emap’s Smash Hits in November that year. The back cover was a poster of Abba and the centre spread was of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats.

When the magazine closed its doors 10 years ago, copies went up on eBay and one fetched £30. Now, a copy of Smash Hits has beaten that figure, going for £31.80 plus £1.50 postage after 14 bids from four people.

That makes four copies of the nigh-on 40-year-old issue that have sold in the past month, the other three selling for £5.99, £11.61 and £31. The cover had come apart on the cheapest of the three, but the other two looked to be in similar condition – the £20 difference showing how much of an eBay selling figure is down to luck.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

The first Madonna magazine cover

December 17, 2015
The first Madonna magazine cover - No 1 from 4 February 1984

The first Madonna magazine cover – No 1 from 4 February 1984

A question comes in: when did Madonna first appear on a magazine cover? I can’t claim to have a definitive answer, but the first British example I can find is the above No 1 cover from 4 February 1984. The fortnightly IPC magazine beats the better-remembered Smash Hits published by Emap by 12 days.

A different look for the cover of Smash Hits, also in February 1984

A different look for the cover of Smash Hits, two weeks later in February 1984

i-D then followed with its March/April issue (which may well have also been in the shops in February).

Madonna cover from i-D dated March/April 1984

Madonna proves she can wink for the cover of i-D dated March/April 1984

It was another five years before Madonna began to appear on Vogue covers in the UK and US, but Tatler had given her its front in 1987.

Madonna fronts Tatler with a sophisticated look in September 1987

Madonna fronts Tatler with a sophisticated look in September 1987

And Playboy got in pretty early on Madonna’s act too with this September 1985 cover. Note the headline: ‘Madonna nude: unlike a virgin  … for the very first time.’

Madonna was pretty quick in getting her kit off for Playboy in September 1985

Madonna was pretty quick in getting her kit off for Playboy in September 1985

Looking at these covers, it’s noticeable how quickly she changes her style to give a different look for each audience – the teens in No 1, the rich sophisticates for the upmarket Tatler, and the goggling male readership of Playboy.

>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016)

Trade group Emap to close all print editions

October 8, 2015

Emap has announced a restructuring – and the closure of all print editions at the Retail Week and Nursing Times publisher. Emap – originally East Midlands Allied Press, a local newspaper group – was split up in 2008, with the trade titles keeping the Emap name and German group Bauer taking over the consumer titles to overtake IPC (now Time Inc UK) as Britain’s biggest publishing group.

Campaign quotes Duncan Painter, chief executive at Top Right Group, Emap’s owner:

Customers are sending a clear message:  digital subscriptions and live events are the formats they want to engage with. This change finalises our group’s migration to a digital and large scale events company.

What can we do with the nipples this month?

August 15, 2015
Cute cover-up: Naomi Campbell on the cover of GQ in April 2000

Cute cover-up: Naomi Campbell on the cover of GQ in April 2000

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, GQ was down there fighting for sales against the likes of FHM and Loaded by putting naked women on its covers as often as possible. Well, nearly naked. The delicate rules of the newsagent dictate that nipples cannot be shown.

This cute magazine cover-up for Naomi Campbell on the cover of GQ – sister title to Vogue at Conde Nast – in April 2000 has to go down as one of the best examples.

You can imagine the cover meetings at the time: ‘Well, how can we show as much naked flesh this month without revealing a nipple?’ They were taped up, covered in subtly-draped clothes or hidden under type. Sometimes, they were just blatantly airbrushed out, as in the example of Abi Titmouse below from FHM (then published by Emap) .

FHM June 2004. But what's happened to the nipples on Abi Titmuss?

FHM June 2004. But what’s happened to the nipples on Abi Titmuss?



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


Who could buy Radio Times and Loaded?

September 29, 2010

It seems like some of the jewels in the crown of British magazines are up for sale – from BBC Worldwide’s Radio Times to IPC’s Loaded.

But who could buy them? The future for Loaded is tricky with the Guardian talking of alarm at the offshore companies with porn links seemingly lined up as a buyer by IPC. But IPC’s future is undoubtedly being driven in the US with owner Time-Life’s need to generate cash.

Radio Times has long laid claim to two records – as Britain’s most profitable title (over £20m a year is the figure touted) and the record best-selling magazine (8,832,579 copies – ‘the largest sale of any weekly magazine in the world’ in the period coinciding with the launch of ITV in 1955).  Even with all the launches in the TV listings sector, it’s still a top 3 seller and the upmarket readership ensures high ad rates, as former Radio Times editor Gill Hudson pointed out at the weekend.

Whoever took over the title – or took an equity share – would need three things:

  • big financial resources;
  • expertise in weeklies;
  • experience in running a joint venture.

The biggest companies – Bauer and IPC – have their own listings titles and a tie-up or share of Radio Times going to these companies would probably be politically difficult. IPC is trying to find cash rather than splash out, though German group Bauer is very much a long-term operator and has experience of running listings magazines in continental Europe.

Next up is Cosmopolitan publisher National Magazines. It has a similar market share to BBC Magazines, but might be able to call on the resources of Hearst, its US parent, and has weekly expertise in Best, Real People and Reveal – though even their combined sales do not match the 947,131 a week of Radio Times. NatMags has also run joint ventures with other US and Australian groups. There is also the other US offshoot, Conde Nast, but it has no weekly credentials and has been having a torrid time in the US and money would be tight.

Future has refocused in recent years and shows every sign of sticking to its last.

Another name jumps into the frame though. The Guardian Media Group has a 41% chunk of Seven, whose founder, Seamus Geoghegan is a former BBC Worldwide director who launched Gardeners’ World and ran other titles; it also has a stake in Word and has long controlled the Auto Trader group. But what about the money? The Guardian Media Group called on private equity group Apax to put together a £1bn deal to take over Emap’s trade titles.

Private equity has played a big role in the past couple of decades, of course, with Cinven buying out IPC from Reed before selling it on to Time.

The Guardian and the BBC both have ambitions in the US but GMG has seen recent changes at the top – would this deter a Radio Times move, or proffer a chance for reecently installed chief executive Andrew Miller to make his mark?

Bauer’s Carvosso in fiery debut

February 11, 2010

Bad taste joke of the month – or possibly just a very old one – from Abby Carvosso, new head of magazine sales at Bauer Media, in a Media Week interview with Harriet Dennys:

‘High praise is also reserved for Heat, which Carvosso describes as “on fire”, before cackling with laughter at her own, unintended, pun.’

In the run-up to Emap’s launch of  the magazine 11 years ago last week, television advertising showed people reading the magazine and bursting into flames. This led to 150 complaints to the Independent Television Commission from viewers who said it was ‘distressing’ and totally inappropriate’. The Fire Brigades Union said at the time: ‘It is wholly inappropriate and totally insensitive to use these images in this way. People who have lost a family member in a fire could be grief-stricken by these advertisements.’

Emap tried to defend itself in Scotland’s Herald, saying: ‘We have taken a surreal approach to the creative idea of reading the “hottest” new weekly entertainment magazine which covers the burning issues of the week.’ Also, it told The Independent: “The scenes involve a lot of water or situations which make it obvious that it isn’t real. It is not our intention to offend and we don’t feel we have.”

This seemed a strange defence – if any of its magazines had 150 letters on a single topic it would certainly have taken notice.

Publishing companies tend to have relatively high staff turnovers and so have short memories, but the value of a trawl through the archives should never be overlooked (or perhaps Carvosso did look at the cuttings and decided to dust off the joke).

Heat first issue cover – and cover for test issue, Pulp.

Cowles on magazine covers

December 10, 2009

Last lecture this year at the Editorial Design Organisation is IPC director  Andy Cowles on ‘Death by Coverline’. £20 on the door for non-members; Wednesday 16 December at Pentagram’s office. Cowles made his name at Emap before doing a stint in the US, running his own consultancy and starting at IPC in 2004.

Magazine cover secrets at

Murdoch ‘set to close consumer magazine arm’

June 19, 2008

TV GUide 1989Mirabella 1990Elle in 1990INside OUt 2006love it! 2006
Four Murdoch magazines that have come and gone – now Love It! is under threat

News International is understood to be set to close its consumer magazine division, after it made a loss of nearly £10m, Media Week reports.

The Chelsea-based unit was set up in 2005 to launch women’s weekly Love It! Plans for other mooted titles, such as a news weekly and a second women’s magazine failed to come to fruition. However, it did wrest the contract to publish seven million-circulation contract magazine Sky Magazine for its parent from John Brown. It also took back the contract for monthly paid-for title Sunday Times Travel from River Publishing.

If it does close the division, it won’t the first time Murdoch’s UK empire has lost enthusiasm for (and a lot of money on) magazines. In the mid-1980s it launched Elle, and Sky in partnership with Hachette, both of which were sold to Emap and Mirabella (launched 1990, closed 1991). TV Guide was another failed offering in that period.

More recently, Inside Out had another short tenure on the shelves (1996-97).

News Magazines profile