Emap rolls weekly U.K. glossy for gals

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It seems weekly is in vogue among British magazine publishers. Back in January, men's lifestyle magazines went weekly, with the launch of two titles, Nuts and Zoo, which have subsequently transformed the market. Now the women's market is set for a similar shakeup as Emap Consumer Media announces the first glossy, upscale magazine with a weekly frequency.

After weeks of speculation, Emap confirmed in late October that it had secured a license for Italian women's weekly title Grazia from its publisher, Mondadori. The Italian Grazia launched in 1938 and sells over 245,000 copies a week.

The British version of Grazia-it will carry the same name in a bid to bring a hint of Italian designer chic to the product-will launch in spring 2005 backed by a $29.4 million investment.

ambitious target

Emap has set itself an ambitious target circulation figure: It hopes for sales of 150,000 per week in the magazine's first year. Grazia will be backed by a hefty $22 million marketing campaign. Publicis Groupe's Fallon and Omnicom's OMD U.K. have been hired to handle creative and media briefs respectively.

The launch is a landmark for the British media scene. Weekly fashion-led glossies are common in countries such as France and Italy, but have not thus far been a feature of U.K. magazines. Women's weeklies have traditionally been more downmarket, specializing in practical household advice, "true-life" stories and soap opera story lines. Circulation at these titles is generally in steady decline. A more recent trend has seen weekly magazine launches that focus on celebrity gossip: Emap's Heat has been particularly successful.

Now Emap believes there is a gap in the market for a more frequent purchase of a high fashion title. Although Emap is keeping details of content and cover price closely guarded, it does say Grazia will target "stylish, discerning women." In a statement, Paul Keenan, chief executive of Emap Consumer Media, added: "In today's culture, when immediacy is demanded and value for time desired, Grazia will be the most modern glossy in Britain." Italian Grazia counts top designer fashion brands, of the caliber of Armani, Gucci and Prada, among its advertisers. A spokeswoman for Emap confirmed that it will look to attract similar advertisers in the U.K.

Emap's optimism stems in part from the phenomenal success it, and rival IPC, have seen in taking men's lifestyle magazines weekly. In January, the two launched head-to-head in the men's weekly magazine field, Emap with Zoo and IPC with Nuts. Offering 18-to-30-year-old-men a cocktail of gadgets, girls and humor, both titles have taken the market by storm.

hot stuff

In the latest official circulation figures, released in August, Nuts reported a circulation of 290,337 with Zoo trailing slightly on 200,125. To put this into context, these figures double the size of the entire men's magazine market. Nuts is currently in second place, behind FHM, the U.K.'s best-selling men's monthly with a circulation of 573,000, but ahead of all other men's monthlies.

So will Grazia prompt a similar flurry of weekly glossy launches? So far, other publishers remain tight-lipped-and most media pundits doubt that they will launch before assessing Grazia's success. Alex Randall, head of print buying at Aegis Group's Vizeum U.K., points out: "Most of the other major publishers have successful monthly glossies already, so they would be cannibalizing their circulation by launching a weekly glossy. IPC, for example, has Marie-Claire, so in many ways it would have too much to lose, whereas Emap's monthly stable was looking a little thin."

Jo Blake, media director at Carat's London office, predicts Grazia's launch will most impact monthlies aimed at fashionistas, such as IPC's In Style and Hachette's Elle. "Because it's a weekly, it's unlikely to be heavily feature-led like Cosmopolitan, for example," she says. In terms of rival launches, Blake expects IPC to be "most likely to come up with something, because it has the budget."

In the meantime Emap has announced its editor for Grazia: Jane Bruton, who joins from BBC Magazines' monthly women's title, Eve. Bruton will work with Editor in Chief Fiona McIntosh, who is a former editor of Elle.

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