Posts Tagged ‘loaded’

Magazine titles: what’s in a name?

February 20, 2018
Title from the first issue of men's monthly Loaded-in 1994: for men who should know better

Title from the first issue of men’s monthly Loaded in 1994: for men who should know better

My mention of Private Eye editor Ian Hislop included his editorial philosophy on the satirical magazine. He sees his job as to:

Make jokes about what people know and then tell them things they don’t know.

Simplifying an editorial strategy to a few words is a great skill. Today, companies have their ‘mission statements’ but magazines have been coining these for centuries. What is the magazine about? What is it about a magazine that is different from its rivals?

A Tit-Bits cover from 1955

A Tit-Bits cover from 1955

For James Brown’s Loaded, it was ‘For men who should know better’; for the science fiction weekly Scoops in 1934, ‘Stories of the wonder-world of tomorrow’; FHM‘s mantra coined by Mike Soutar was ‘Funny, sexy useful’.

George Newnes came up with the not-so-pithy title Tit-Bits from all the Most Interesting Books, Periodicals and Contributors in the World for his pioneering weekly magazine in 1881, which was soon shortened to Tit-Bits.

Sometimes, the title goes a long way to saying it all: Answers to Correspondents, Men Only, Motor, Woman, Razzle. But even in these cases, differentiation is needed from rivals.

Alfred Harmsworth's Home Chat from 1895

Harmsworth’s Home Chat from 1895

Think of the woman’s weekly Home Chat. The name dates back to an Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliffe) launch in 1895.  Would House Chat have been as good? Or Home Talk? Or Fireside Chat?

Probably not, and certainly Home Chat lasted until 1959, when it became a victim of new technology in the form of television. The word ‘chat’ was resurrected for the weekly Chat by ITV/IPC in 1985, though by that time the word ‘home’ was a no-no for a woman’s magazine.

A rival to Home Chat was Home Notes (1895-1958) from C. Arthur Pearson. This carried a line of poetry on its cover: ‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,’ by the US poet William Ross Wallace. This summed up the influence of the mother, but today it has sinister connotations.

Charing Cross magazine took its name from a famous place in London -1900-first-issue-magazine-cover

Charing Cross magazine took its name from a famous place in London in 1900

Many Victorian publishers took their titles from fashionable places in the world’s greatest city. Examples include Cornhill, Pall Mall, The Strand, Charing Cross.

In doing so, they spread the fame of these thoroughfares and places even farther around the world, in a way that song lyrics would do in the 20th century (Ferry Across the Mersey, Wichita Lineman, Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa) and TV does today (Jersey Shore, The Only Way is Essex).

Many magazine titles have changed the meaning of words, or at least influenced our perception of them, such Punch, Eagle and Delayed Gratification.


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


 

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.

IPC set to close Nuts

March 31, 2014
First sold issue of Nuts

First sold issue of Nuts

IPC Media has announced a 30-day consultation with staff about the potential closure of Nuts and Nuts.co.uk. IPC Inspire managing director Paul Williams said:

After 10 years at the top of its market, we have taken the difficult decision to propose the closure of Nuts and exit the young men’s lifestyle sector. IPC will provide impacted staff with all the support they need during the consultation process.

There are several factors behind the decision. First, falling sales. In print, it now shifts an average of just 53,000 copies and digital figures are a pitiful 8,000 an issue.

Second, Nuts and its rivals have been under attack from women’s lobby groups for the past year as a form of harassment. Time-Life, the strait-laced US owners, undoubtedly hate this – Maxim founder Felix Dennis has pointed out that a magazine like Nuts could never have been launched in the US:

‘anyone who does [try to] will be utterly crucified because there isn’t anywhere to sell it. There’s not a supermarket in America that would touch [Emap’s and IPC’s weeklies] Zoo or Nuts.’

Also, Nuts has been looking exposed since IPC sold lad’s mags pioneer Loaded four years ago

First issue of Zoo from Emap

First issue of Zoo from Emap

Yet, when Nuts and Zoo launched in 2004 it was one of the great publishing races of the decade – IPC gave away a million free copies through WHSmith. At stake was leadership of a weekly men’s market alongside women’s in a way that gave hopes of turning the publishing clock back to the 1950s. IPC beat Emap (since swallowed up by Bauer) by a week and Nuts has held the sales lead since.

The first ABC sales figures were impressive – almost 300,000 for Nuts and 200,000+ for Zoo. The weeklies took a chunk out of the monthlies – FHM (Emap), Loaded (IPC) and Maxim (Dennis) – with Loaded losing almost a third of its sales in 2005-6. Since then, all the headlines have been about plummeting, for monthlies and weeklies. Maxim was the first to go in 2009.

IPC reckoned it spent £8m launching Nuts – that’s the best part of £1m a year over its decade on the news-stands. The only winner has been websites (and not the ones owned by the publishers).

So, what will Bauer, publisher of rival Zoo, do now? Zoo’s sales are even more dire – 29,521.

IPC profile

Bauer/Emap profile

Men’s weeklies

Men’s monthlies