U.K. Publishers Struggle to Figure Out What Men Want

Bauer Will Study Pilot Issue of Gaz7etta Before Taking Title Weekly

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- U.K. magazine publishers have struggled to come up with a new formula that speaks directly to the new generation of male readers since the heyday of the "lad's mag" titles like FHM ended years ago. Bauer Media's answer is Gaz7etta, a new weekly glossy that debuts with a six-page celebration of Saatchi & Saatchi's 40th birthday, portraying the story of the rise of brothers Maurice and Charles Saatchi as an insight into "The Real Mad Men."

Gaz7etta's pilot issue.
Gaz7etta's pilot issue.
The feature tells how the Saatchis' "40-year tale of improbable adventure makes Don Draper seem positively pedestrian." Other pages -- divided between 50% news and 50% style -- include stories on the shifting balance of power in soccer, London Mayor Boris Johnson's private life and Daniel Craig's reported threat to quit the James Bond movie franchise.

To reduce risk in a tough market, Gaz7etta is starting with a pilot issue and no firm date for going weekly.

Paul Keenan, chief executive of Bauer Media U.K. -- whose interests comprise print, radio, TV and digital -- said, "We've done a lot of launching over the years, and one issue is that traditionally you spend heavily at the point of maximum vulnerability, when the team and the audience are still in the process of being formed."

Bauer's plan for Gaz7etta is to develop the team and the audience in tandem. In the coming weeks, they will continue to work on the website, stage events with commercial partners and, inevitably, a lot of focus groups. "We've revealed our hand early," Mr. Keenan said, "so we're not going to say exactly what we're doing next, but the pilot was a firm basis to start a conversation with the market. We are committed to this space, and we have a strong idea about what we want to do and when we want to do it."

Gaz7etta is edited by Andrew Pemberton, former editor of Spin and Blender in the U.S., and Q in the U.K. The editorial director, Jane Bruton, is also editor in chief of Bauer's successful glossy women's weekly, Grazia, which Gaz7etta resembles in look and feel.

The pilot issue carries ads from Peugeot, Tag Heuer, Clinique, Moschino, Galliano, Harrods, Calvin Klein and Topman. The pilot is bound into Grazia, which has around 230,00 readers, and is available in retail outlets including Harrods and Top Man and through online fashion sites matches.com and my-wardrobe.com.

"Classy and weekly is a new and different approach," said Vanessa Clifford, head of press at Mindshare U.K. "It's really for the partners and brothers of Grazia readers, and I think it has potential, as long as it comes into enough peoples' hands. I like the fact that they have not just thrown it out there -- in this climate, you have to take it very cautiously."

The men's magazine market is not thriving in the U.K. The best-selling title is Men's Health, with an average circulation of 245,754 for the first six months of the year, according to ABC, down from 250,247 a year earlier. FHM and Loaded, plus weeklies Nuts and Zoo, are all losing sales fast, with GQ holding steady but with low circulation.

Ms. Clifford said, "With the lads' mags, it's easy to blame [the decline] on the rise of online. But the internet has taken people's time in a different way; it's not just replaced the magazines. The general mood has changed, and people don't talk about lad and ladette culture or 'Cool Britannia' any more. That generation grew up and grew out of it, and the new generation is different."

The new generation is hard to define, but Mr. Keenan tried: "Our guy is interested in the what and the why of news and its impact on his life, as well as in style, work, where he lives and his lifestyle. Communities tend to form around magazine brands. We've seen it with Grazia, where the loyalty and community are strong. Grazia brought a fresh and different mix, and the same opportunity exists around Gaz7etta."

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