Her Majesty’s subjects have been invading the US magazine industry. One of the latest arrivals is Ed Needham, the editor-in-chief of the soon-to-launch US version of British title FHM (For Him Magazine). Needham joins a boatload of long-established Brits including Tina Brown (Talk), Anna Wintour (Vogue) and Glenda Bailey (Marie Claire).
Her Majesty’s subjects have been invading the US magazine industry.
One of the latest arrivals is Ed Needham, the editor-in-chief of the
soon-to-launch US version of British title FHM (For Him Magazine).
Needham joins a boatload of long-established Brits including Tina Brown
(Talk), Anna Wintour (Vogue) and Glenda Bailey (Marie Claire).
But Needham’s more direct competition comes from a former editor of FHM,
Mike Soutar, who is now editing the US version of Maxim, the runaway
magazine success of the year. The title, owned by British publishing
house Dennis, gave life to a downscale general interest men’s category
that was almost nonexistent in the US two years ago.
As the UK men’s magazine market begins to show signs of decline, Emap
Petersen, best known for specialist titles such as Skin Diver and Hot
Rod, is hoping the US will provide fertile new ground.
The sector is already occupied by narrower titles like Details, GQ,
Esquire, Gear and Stuff, as well as those in the related health
category. Needham thinks there is room for more and says, ’FHM is at the
beginning of a trend.’
It is a view echoed by Tony Silber, editorial director at Folio, a trade
title focused on the magazine industry. ’I think there’s definitely room
for FHM, though stealing Maxim’s thunder will be hard to do,’ Silber
Much is riding on Needham’s shoulders. The print run for the first
issue, slated for February, is 225,000. That figure is expected to rise
to 400,000 by the end of the year. The stock market will be watching how
successfully British Emap is able to translate its titles into the US
market through the former Petersen Publishing, which Emap acquired in
January. FHM will be the springboard for other Emap consumer titles in a
range of sectors.
’It is fundamental that FHM be a success,’ Needham admits.
Maxim’s guaranteed rate base for the first half of 2000 is 1.35 million,
which is up 700,000 - or 108% - over the previous year, according to the
magazine. In the UK, however, the situation is reversed, with Maxim
trailing FHM’s audited circulation figure of 701,089 by over
’We are different (from Maxim) in every way,’ Needham argues. ’From the
quality of the people to the photos to the paper stock.’
He plans to pour the majority of his budget into the product rather than
spend heavily on marketing and a lavish launch party. There are no plans
to hire a PR agency as of yet.
Needham works on a stretch of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue that is home to
many potential fashion advertisers such as Paul Smith and Emporio
But one key media buyer has mixed feelings about the new title. Roberta
Garfinkle, senior VP and director of print buying at McCann-Erickson,
says, ’My concern is that it is a crowded field and I want to know what
this magazine does differently. It has to be doing something better than
the others. In my mind it is Maxim without the sex.’
And though Garfinkle admits she is impressed by the success of regional
spin-offs in countries as far afield as Australia and South Africa, she
wants to see whether FHM is able to hit the right note with American
Getting into the head of the potential American reader shouldn’t be that
difficult for Needham, who attended the University of Massachusetts and
studied American literature. His working day is currently taken up with
staff interviews and is followed by a culture-soaking round of drinking
engagements that Homer Simpson would be proud of.
In terms of content, Needham believes there isn’t much of the UK version
that wouldn’t attract the target readership, American men aged 18 to 34.
Past cover girls have included Jenny McCarthy, Britney Spears and
Yasmine Bleeth. ’The more I show people, the less it needs to change,’
Needham contends. ’The sexy, funny, useful thing is easy for men to buy
into. The challenge will be to adopt the tone.’
Needham doesn’t think that American attitudes to sex are all that
different from British attitudes. Though US newspapers don’t carry
topless models, he feels that there are many sexual images in magazines
and in the media.
’This isn’t Iran,’ he jokes. ’There is as much sexiness in movies, music
videos and ad campaigns.’
Not just sex
Though sex will undoubtedly be part of the mix, what else will FHM offer
to entice a frat-boy readership to go between the covers? If features in
the British edition are any indication, humor will play a major
FHM’s online edition regularly features the weird and the wonderful. For
example, a ’weird law quiz’ recently asked readers to determine if they
had ever performed the ’illegal’ act of stopping a cocktail waitress
from taking a drink away. Besides the criminal high jinks, FHM will
carry fashion - from catwalk-looks to the latest streetwear. Interviews
with hip, upcoming celebrities will feature heavily alongside reviews
and health coverage.
Headed by Scott Grambling, the Reporter section is the place to pitch
everything from grooming products to gadgets. ’We will cover technology,
music, movies and computer games,’ Needham says. ’All the things that
are material to men. But we are not going to be doing speed boats.’
FHM will initially carry around seven pages of health items, which will
include grooming products. But Needham warns PR pros not to go for the
hard sell. ’You are not going to change our minds,’ he declares. ’We
know fairly quickly what we’re interested in.’
Is he daunted by the heaving racks of magazines on the newsstand?
Needham says no. He feels the articles in other men’s magazines are
simply unmanageable. ’Magazines have to be nimble and agile to fit into
the gaps in people’s lives when they have time to read,’ he says.
’There is so much competition from girlfriends, cars, travel, work,
videos and sports.’
FHM (For Him Magazine) Emap Petersen 110 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10011
Tel: (212) 886 3600 Fax: (212) 886 2824 Editor-in-chief: Ed Needham
Fashion editor: Antony Wright Creative director: Stuart Selner Sections
editor: Scott Gramling Picture editor: Jody Peckman.