Ian Monk: Why 'slebs' mags are struggling

Is the bottom dropping out of the celebrity market for brands, publicists and media alike? Perhaps the surest sign the bandwagon has hit the buffers is the dwindling sales of weekly celebrity magazines. Although they still post plausible circulation figures of hundreds of thousands each, the reality is vastly different.

Swathes of these are either cut-price or given away through the sales device of 'bundling' titles in twos or even threes for the price of one poly-bagged offering.

Essentially there are now no more than five 'slebs' deemed worthy of the covers of Closer, Now, Reveal, New, Heat and so on. 'Readers are bored with all of them,' one editor tells me. 'The problem is, if we try to introduce a new face, sales plummet even quicker.'

I don't actually believe that the UK is losing its obsession with the exhibitionist celebrity traits characteristic of TV reality shows. It is just that the brilliant new media age has brought narcissistic fulfilment of the celebrity dream to all.

Everyone can star in their own reality show through access to a mobile phone camera, the creation of a personal Facebook or YouTube show, and a constant flow of tweets. Who needs TV or newspapers?

One person swimming against the tide is Channel Five owner Richard Desmond, who plainly still believes in the power of TV and celebrity and is about to sign a deal to bring viewers hundreds of hours of Big Brother. Already a sundry array of nobodies, including a prostitute, are being touted in Desmond's own Daily Star as BB candidates. Cheryl Cole has let it be known reports linking her to the revamped show are spurious.

However, the Star aside, red-tops are losing interest in the one-dimensional-type celeb who once finished third in Hell's Kitchen. They simply don't sell. Hence their use as PR collateral for the endless brand photoshoots, quick-fix diets, 'my life' stories is almost exhausted.

To acquire fame through reality TV, when everyone can create their own show, may take depraved exhibitionism beyond a level to which mainstream media will want to venture. But don't bet on it.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun

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