As the tournament draws to a close, the magazine's editor David Hall is in the middle of a major redesign of the title scheduled to hit newsstands in August. The mag is the biggest-selling sports monthly in the UK and has won the respect of professional players, football clubs and PROs alike for being a credible and serious title appealing to an adult audience.
Hall, who joined FourFourTwo nearly six months ago, says the redesign was long overdue. While many of the changes will be cosmetic, Hall is introducing a ten-page section called 'Performance', which will offer advice to football players on nutrition, psychology, fitness and conditioning. 'Sixty-nine per cent of our readers play football at least once a week. I thought the one thing that we were not doing was servicing people who play the game,' he says.
Being taken seriously is a key part of the magazine's editorial agenda. 'PROs get it wrong when they think we are a really laddie "wahey let's get the beers in" title. We're not interested in running a Nuts-style piece talking about going on the piss for five days abroad and seeing a match. We are serious about the game,' he says.
Instead, FourFourTwo offers historical features on characters and mavericks in the sport such as a feature in the next edition on Eric Cantona's early career in France. It also covers lower leagues alongside Premier League games, and writes about the sport across the globe.
Hall identifies offering access to players and running competitions as key ways for PROs to get coverage. For example, M&C Saatchi Sports & Entertainment's CEO Steve Martin's recent coverage focuses around big interview pieces such as Thierry Henry for Reebok and Wayne Rooney for Coca-Cola. 'The best advice is to have clear stories to sell and access to players, and don't offer some small-time promotional idea,' he says. 'The players read FourFourTwo. PROs should make more of this.'
Steve Bradley, Hill & Knowlton board director, sports marketing and sponsorship, placed an interview with Peter Crouch for client Pringles last month and says FourFourTwo has done well to 'command a genuine point of difference as a football magazine for an adult audience in a declining men's magazine market.'
He advises PROs not to undervalue their own assets when negotiating branded imagery and logos, and suggests discussing packages in advance with section editors. But PROs need to know their stuff because the writers are experts, warns Pitch account director Simon Bristow. As for getting coverage? 'We've just secured a great feature for Heineken around its UEFA Champions League sponsorship, but we did take them to Brazil for that one,' he says.
A minute with... David Hall, editor, FourFourTwo
Describe the magazine
FourFourTwo is a magazine for people who love football, not just a specific club. Our brand values are access, insight and humour. No-one gets better player access than us.
- Where is it sold?
FourFourTwo is a truly global brand. We are sold in 20 territories, with editions tweaked for the local market. We have just launched an online version in the US.
- What advice would you give to PROs trying to get coverage?
Give us access to players. We are good at getting this on our own, but the best way for a brand to get into the magazine is by being associated with a player, ex-player or manager. If it is the right person, you will get a lot of mileage out of it.
- Key dos and don'ts
It is prudent for PROs to talk to us first about ideas they have. There is no point spending lots of money on something and then trying to get coverage when we could have told them at the start the idea would not work for us.
- What are your deadlines?
We go to press two weeks before going on sale. The next issue is out on 16 July. Our lead time is four to five weeks. We plan our cover stories months in advance.QUICK FACTS
Circulation: 103,216 (Source: ABC July-Dec 2009)
Demographics: 13 per cent are aged over 45; 46 per cent between 25 and
44; 41 per cent between 15 and 24; AB 38.5 per cent; ABC1 69.3 per cent