Loaded to relaunch as sales hit a 10-year low

By Alyson Fixter and Maxine Clayman

Classic lads’ mag Loaded is to relaunch in May after being overtaken
by rival Maxim and falling to its lowest circulation for nearly a
decade.

The title that is credited with creating the lads’ mag sector has
become a high-profile casualty of the market invasion of weeklies Zoo
and Nuts.

In the latest ABC figures, IPC’s Loaded showed a 16 per
cent fall in circulation year-on-year to 220,057, compared with its
peak of 450,000 in 1998.

Highbury’s Front has also suffered
badly, with a drop of 19 per cent yearon- year to 84,093. It announced
this week that the title will also be relaunched in 2005.

IPC
managers claim the relaunched Loaded will take the title “back to its
roots”, but industry insiders have speculated the company may be more
interested in launching a second men’s weekly, following the continuing
success of Nuts.

However, men’s glossy Maxim came out of the ABCs
a winner, overtaking Loaded for the first time under its new editor, US
import Greg Gutfeld.

Gutfeld said: “We were always confident we
were going to make Maxim into the funniest, smartest men’s mag, but we
didn’t think it would happen so fast.

“We’re creating a mag that appeals to men’s assumptions about their lives and what is true and honest.”

Eric Fuller, publisher of Loaded, said: ” Maxim’s success has been heavily driven by promotional covermounting.

“We’ve got big plans for Loaded.

We’re
taking a more fundamental look at our offering rather than just
spending a lot of promotional money on a product that doesn’t really
stand up.”

John Perry, publisher of Front , insisted that monthlies were not a dying breed under the assault of the weeklies.

He said: “We have to be honest and admit that the lads’ mag market as a whole became complacent.

“But
while an ABC decline is never good news, we have a brand new editor and
a gung-ho team who have big plans to turn this around.

“You’ll
see from our April war-themed issue that Front is doing something new
and different, with a big bold theme, innovative promotions and content
that’s 100 per cent relevant to readers.”

David Pullen, managing
director of FHM Worldwide, insisted he found the rise of Zoo and Nuts
“encouraging”, despite a sales drop of four per cent year-on-year for
market leader FHM.

He said: “The growth of the men’s weeklies is
forcing continual editorial improvement as monthlies reassess
themselves to justify their cover price and deliver to readers.

“A
monthly is designed to be luxuriated over, which is why FHM has refined
its content, becoming more aspirational and indulgent.”

Dylan
Jones, editor of GQ, said: “The problem with the likes of Loaded, Maxim
and FHM is that when their circulation starts to drop, all they can do
is increase the sexuality of the mag.

” Nuts and Zoo are clever mags that are perfect for a certain type of man.

But I don’t think it’s the end for the men’s monthlies. It’s hard to launch against a product like GQ.”

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