MEDIA: Profile - Grown-up and fighting fit/Paul Colbert, editor, ZM

If you want an enduring image that will define ZM - the new men’s health magazine from the National Magazine company - you should look at its first cover. It shows a well-built man in a loose-fitting white shirt sitting back in a chair with a bottle of beer in his hand. He is laughing at some joke and looks the very picture of an Athena postcard.

If you want an enduring image that will define ZM - the new men’s

health magazine from the National Magazine company - you should look at

its first cover. It shows a well-built man in a loose-fitting white

shirt sitting back in a chair with a bottle of beer in his hand. He is

laughing at some joke and looks the very picture of an Athena

postcard.



’When we were researching the magazine, it was this image which all the

focus groups pointed to and said - this sums up your magazine,’ explains

ZM’s editor Paul Colbert - appropriately enough a collector of exotic

bottled beers.



’It defines a man who keeps fit and healthy but does so in order to have

a life and not for the sake of a six-pack stomach. ZM is about fitness

so that you can relax, so you can have some ’me’ time.’



ZM sort of stands for Zest for Men. Sort of, in that it spins off from

Nat Mags’ women’s title Zest but it will never be referred to as

anything other than ZM. The contents of the magazine are resolutely

health dominated with more than 50 per cent of the features being health

related, but it will contain other lifestyle journalism. It is a growing

market. Rival Men’s Health has a circulation of 240,000 while GQ Activ

sells some 60,000 copies.



’I don’t think we will take readers from Men’s Health,’ Colbert

says.



’I think we will draw new readers into the market. We are aiming mainly

at men in their late 20s and early 30s who are growing out of Loaded and

FHM and returning to specialist titles, but who still want the humour of

the men’s magazines. Some people see Men’s Health and think it is just

about six-pack stomachs. Our men are thinking in the way that women were

ten years ago - ’how do I balance my job, my relationship, my health and

maybe my kids?’ There are features on work, sex, stress, fashion and

keeping the other half happy in the kitchen and the bedroom.’



imself. Having been a music journalist for 15 years, he now specialises

in launching titles and joined Nat Mags after relaunching Focus for

Gruner and Jahr. ’It is very satisfying to build a magazine up from

scratch, but it takes a good couple of years to see it develop

properly,’ he says.



’That is what we will be doing with ZM.’ There will be one issue this

year, then the magazine will be published quarterly next year and

monthly the year after that. ’That will give us time to assess reader

reaction to the magazine.’



Colbert has a reputation for strongly held opinions and a willingness to

put his money where his mouth is. He left his editorship at Vox after a

dispute over the direction of the magazine. When you meet him, however,

he looks like a mild-mannered man.



’When you first see Paul he does not strike you as terribly

prepossessing,’ says one colleague. ’When you get talking to him,

however, he is one of the most interesting people. He has all these

stories from his days as a music journalist. He knows what’s what.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1993

Editor, Vox

1995

Launch editor, XL

1995

Consultant editor, Encore

1996

Relaunch editor, Focus

1998

Launch editor, ZM



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