By Alyson Fixter
Struggling men's magazine Maxim has pledged to stick to its "no nipples" editorial policy, despite losing nearly 40,000 readers, following a year of sagging sales for many once-perky titles.
Latest ABC figures show that Maxim sales have dropped 18.7 per cent in the past year, while Emap's market leader FHM has shown a hefty fall of 13.6 per cent, equalling 80,000 lost readers.
Meanwhile, racy weeklies Nuts and Zoo continue to put on sales, gaining 11.4 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively in the past year, with IPC title Nuts's average total monthly sales outselling FHM, Loaded and Maxim put together.
But Maxim editor Greg Gutfeld (pictured)
said publisher Dennis continued to back his editorial approach and was committed to pouring more money into marketing the title.
He said: "We made a hard choice early on. We're the tamest of the men's mags, and we don't have a nipple count — we're based on humour and ideas.
We're trying to create a modern new men's mag and I'm confident it's the best out there.
"The challenge has been how to articulate that to new readers. If you look at the newsstand you get a row of mags that all look very alike, so we're going to change the way we do our covers and stop putting the mag in bags, to allow people to flick through them on the newsstand."
FHM publisher Rimi Atwal said the sales drop for FHM was balanced by an increase in the number of readers accessing the magazine's website, buying its mobile phone content or watching FHM TV, saying the publisher was creating a "virtuous conversation between platforms".
She added: "Everyone knows that audiences are fragmenting across media platforms. Our strategy is a brand strategy, and although the heart of it is the magazine, we've had the foresight to invest in where the market is going."
The magazine's own monitoring of its reader reach across all platforms was "more sophisticated" than the ABC figures, she added.
Of the classic men's monthlies, only IPC's relaunched Loaded showed a respectable rise — of 5.4 per cent year on year — although rivals have argued the income from the extra sales might not be enough to cover the cost of a price cut and heavy promotion.
But editor Martin Daubney said: "The fact is that we're up and they're down. FHM is the Heinz baked beans or Andrex of the men's market. And Maxim defines itself by what it hates — what does it like?"
Elsewhere in the sector, NatMags's Men's Health leapfrogged Loaded to reach second place in the monthly market, with its eighth consecutive yearon- year increase.
Editor Morgan Rees said: "The days of Men's Health being something people bought when they just needed to lose some weight are long gone.
"We are a brand that our readers trust to make their lives better across the board, whether that's in the workplace, the gym or the restaurant, and the broader we make our remit, the more popular we seem to be."