Zoo zooms in on the topless and the topical

Zoo Weekly: ‘for blokes who enjoy a laugh’

Emap unleashed the first promotional issue of its £8m men’s magazine Zoo Weekly on Wednesday, complete with topless pictures of supermodel Kate Moss, a photo of a woman with a 12-stone tumour and conspiracy theories on the death of the Princess of Wales.

Editor Paul Merrill said he didn’t care what “media luvvies” thought because the magazine was aimed at blokes who “enjoy a laugh”.

The issue features a Rio Ferdinand exclusive, a 24-page TV section and 21 pages of sport, including previews of FA Cup ties.

Zoo Weekly will go head-to-head with IPC’s £8m rival Nuts, which launched last week. Both are aimed at men aged 16 to 35 and each is hoping for initial sales of 150,000 to 200,000.

Merrill said research showed that men wanted girls, football, conspiracy theories, jokes and reviews. He told Press Gazette: “I think it’s a massive advantage to us that we can get really topical stuff on our cover which Nuts can’t do. We’ve got the Wolves goal that persuaded Fergie to buy Saha for £12m and Martin Johnson retiring. Their covers go early but we hold ours back.”

Of the photograph of the woman bearing a large growth on her backside, Merrill said: “A 12stone tumour might be shocking to you but it won’t be to our blokes. Anyway, that’s a serious story. She is going to have it removed courtesy of the Discovery Channel, so it’s a serious medical page.”

As for an equally bizarre story of a man who sued a restaurant after he found a condom in his soup, Merrill said: “We have got to cover cookery in some way. Again, that’s a true story.”

He said humour was vital for any men’s magazine. “We’re not really worried what media luvvies make of it. We are aiming at blokes up and down the country who don’t take life too seriously and enjoy a laugh.”

Comedian Mark Thomas will be a regular Zoo Weekly and Sky Sports presenter Tim Lovejoy and comedian Jimmy Carr will begin new columns from next week.

At Nuts the philosophy is that men can take the magazine home and not feel embarrassed to put it on their coffee table. But Merrill said: “I’d be embarrassed to have it on my coffee table. It’s ridiculous to bring out a men’s mag and have a ‘no nipple’ rule. The girls in Zoo are glamorous.

There aren’t that many of them but it’s what blokes want. I think Nuts will definitely be copying us, in terms of our humour, content and where we are aiming.”

He claimed the reaction to the promotional issue had been phenomenal. “A lot of people at IPC have told us they think it’s absolutely fantastic and are quite embarrassed by Nuts. We’re just focusing on what we are doing.”

Nuts editor Phil Hilton told Press Gazette: “Zoo Weekly seems very much a niche teen-to-early20s product – the kind of mag you’d leave around if you were living at home with your mum and you wanted to shock her.”

By Ruth Addicott

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