But to call the two titles direct competitors would do both a disservice. Instead, the rise of the lifestyle-focused Men’s Health, against falling circulation for the beer and boobs-fuelled FHM, indicates a shift in the men’s magazine sector.
The recent closures of Maxim and Arena further suggest that consumer focus is moving from quick and easy titillation to lifestyle issues and self-improvement.
PR professionals have noticed the trend. Ben Dutton, creative director at Mischief PR, believes Men’s Health’s success is partly because it offers value for money. ‘As people become increasingly conscious of spending, there is a trend towards self-improvement,’ he says. ‘Buying a copy of Men’s Health is an inexpensive step towards this.’
Editor Morgan Rees explains: ‘Men’s Health offers an holistic view on how to make life better. It is a well-being and lifestyle title that is funny, sexy and clever, but also fundamentally useful.’
The magazine covers sex and relationships, grooming, gadgets, style, finances and, of course, how to achieve a six pack worthy of its muscle-bound cover models.
Men’s Health has a research facility in the US that tests all techniques, products and diets promoted in the magazine. This gives the publication an authoritative voice. Rees says: ‘We only feature new techniques, as long as they can easily be integrated into men’s everyday lives.’
Threepipe account executive Jennie Cox advises PROs to think outside the box if they want to get noticed by Men’s Health, rather than the usual celebrity slant or new product launch. ‘Coming up with a new angle is key. It is a heavier read with how-to features to help readers in their everyday lives,’ she says.
In fact, celebrities tend to feature only for legitimate fitness reasons. For example, Hugh Jackman was interviewed recently about how he got in shape for the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie.
Lori Rosset, press officer for sat nav firm Garmin, pitches to Men’s Health because it offers an aspirational factor, but she advises against the use of scantily-clad female models: ‘It is not really a tits and tabloid title.’
There is not much Men’s Health will not cover, although unsurprisingly it does draw the line at tobacco.
Offer an original angle that pricks the team’s interest, advises Rees.
‘I love the world of the strange – offer us humour and look beyond the obvious,’ he says. ‘There is nothing wrong with the lager and crisps-style editorial of the 90s, but we offer content that is funny as well as helpful to readers.’
Publisher NatMag Rodale
Circulation 250,094 (1 July 2008-31 December 2008)
A minute with... Morgan Rees, editor, Men’s Health
Who reads it?
The average reader is 32, but we target anyone from 20 to 55.
Why are you doing so well?
We do not really have any rivals because of the shape of the men’s market. Men’s Health provides a service, with its expert studies, to help readers make their lives better. And in these tough times, everyone wants to be better.
Ideal press release
We will look at anything from lawn mowers to gyms, just so long as there is access to good sources. Offer us humour and consider the application of what you are pitching in – how feasible is it to use?
What can PROs do to make your life easier?
We are bombarded with emails, so be concise.
Explain your online offering
Our website is updated daily with news and we have a large online community. Competitions are purely on the site and we are looking for high-value prizes from PROs. Our Grooming Awards are about to launch exclusively on the site. Go to menshealth.com.