Take a Break to launch mums' political party

by Alyson Fixter

Bestselling
women’s magazine Take a Break has fired the opening shot in what is
tipped to be the great weekly war of 2006 by launching a political
party staffed by mums who want to ban gangsta rap, membership of
“street gangs” and violent video games.

The Bauer weekly,
market-leader for 15 years, has been feeling the heat from copycat
titles and newcomers such as IPC’s Pick Me Up, while the sector as a
whole is bracing itself for a new onslaught this year from News
International and The National Magazine Company.

NatMags’
long-awaited weekly, Real People, is due out on 12 January, while News
International’s first magazine offering, a true-life weekly with the
working title Love It, is expected on 6 February.

In an
unprecedented move, Take a Break will be organising 54 candidates to
stand in local elections under the banner of Mums’ Army, and has
contacted would-be candidates advising them to get as much publicity as
possible from local press, which would have the additional benefit of
giving the title itself a grassroots boost.

Take a Break’s
circulation remained steady at 1.2m in the last set of circulation
figures, maintaining its position as Britain’s bestselling women’s
magazine , but Bauer bosses are feeling the pressure in an increasingly
crowded market.

However, editor John Dale insisted the move was
“100 per cent heartfelt”, and said that 10,000 responses to the
campaign was a sign of how disenfranchised his readers were.

He
added: “For several years we’ve been reporting on how violent gangs and
yobs have been destroying the lives of many thousands of our readers.

“People were desperate and, in some cases, suicidal, and nothing was being done – so we launched Mums’ Army.

“We’ve
had people write in and say they’d love to stand for elections, but
they’re too scared because they’re right in the middle of it.

“That makes the women who are willing to put their heads above the parapet even braver.

“This
is not something that may be understood by people in the big
metropolitan centres because that is not where Take a Break sells, but
our readers love their magazine because it is fighting their corner
when no-one else is, and this is not a publicity stunt, it is a serious
campaign.”

The magazine has candidates preparing to stand in all
regions of the UK, including Luton, Southampton, Northampton, Cardiff,
Hull, Preston and Glasgow.

Its would-be councillors are in favour
of banning membership of street gangs, compelling parents of ASBO
children to attend parenting classes, banning video games, music and
videos promoting violence, and dealing leniently with people “provoked
by yobs into breaking the law”.

Meanwhile, new rival Real People,
a joint venture between NatMags and Australian company ACP, will appear
next week with an initial price of 30p and print run of 1.3m.

According
to industry sources, the title will be modern in design but lean
towards “happy ending” stories rather than the tragic, putting it
closer to traditional weeklies in content.

While Pick Me Up has
been considered a success, rival 2005 launch Full House, from German
publisher Burda, flopped badly, a disaster that launch teams are
desperate to avoid.

News International is believed to be aiming
more at Take a Break with its new title Love It, with Judy McGuire,
award-winning editor of the News of the World’s magazine, as editorial
director.

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