They liked sport - or, perhaps more accurately football; they
consumed alcohol; they enjoyed being out with their mates; and an
interest in scantily-clad women, of greater or lesser celebrity, was
assumed. It was a ready-made readership which simply needed tapping. In
1994, IPC’s Loaded, the first lads’ mag, was born.
The sector has now peaked at two million readers. James Brown, Loaded’s
creator, was never in any doubt: ’I believed it could have the same sort
of shelf-life and growth as Rolling Stone had in the 1960s.’
Brown’s creation was born out of a variety of circumstances: cheap
travel had made exotic destinations accessible, British clubs, bands and
comedians were resurgent, plus satellite TV had pushed cult films and
programmes into the limelight.
Although Loaded started the trend, it was Emap’s purchase of For Him
Magazine around the same time which has more significance for today’s
ABCs. The transformed FHM, made an early editorial decision to only
feature women on its cover. It now takes a third of the market.
Anthony Noguera, current FHM editor, says: ’A libido is very important
for a magazine.’ In practice this means the ’me too’ additions to the
sector have covers only marginally less explicit than what used to be
known as ’top shelf’ magazines.
PR remains undeniably important to the lads’ mag market. Damian Mould,
CEO of Slice, says titles are receptive to relatively thoughtful
’Rather than approaching them with a press release, we come up with a
joint initiative around a particular product or artist,’ he said. ’This
ties them in, gives them some ownership. You want endorsement rather
than just column inches.’
The sector however, has more than a touch of homogeneity about it. ’They
are different but not that different,’ Mould says. ’Clients think of
them as being similar but they also look at the circulation. FHM has got
the biggest so there is a cachet for clients to appear in there.’
’FHM watered down the hardcore noisy lifestyle of Loaded and presented
it in a less exciting but more accessible form,’ says Brown.
Although his new company, I Feel Good Publishing, will concentrate on
more entertainment and lifestyle, he acknowledges FHM’s
’They successfully drove the market forward and proved that men could
have truly massive lifestyle titles.’
And with new ABCs due next month, there is nothing to suggest that FHM
won’t still be the one to catch.
FHM - Anthony Noguera
ABC: 702,514 (July - Dec 1999)
’It used to be really easy to define the average FHM reader. Four years
ago I would have said he was 28, in middle to upper management, perhaps
owned his own flat, had a girlfriend, was maybe looking to get married.
Now we have readers who are 15 and readers who are 45. We pitch the
magazine at us: in the office we range from 19 to 37; if it interests
us, it goes in. If you think about it too much, you screw up and often
end up with a very sterile magazine.
’For Him Magazine was awful, rubbish. Before Emap bought it, it was
worthy in the worst possible way. It looked crap and was written
’We have an incredibly incestuous relationship with a number of tabloid
newspapers. We want 11 million readers of the Sun or whoever to know
that our issue’s out; it’s cheaper than taking an ad out. Everybody
’Loaded sprang away from the blocks but it is a magazine through which
readers live vicariously; FHM is about readers’ lives - we were offered
all the things (by PROs) that Loaded was but we won’t do it if readers
can’t do it - that’s why we have loads of phone numbers, loads of
information. But I’m very open to PR because I recognise how important
MAXIM - Tom Loxley
ABC: 315,102 (July - Dec 1999)
’We pitch ourselves at the 27-year old ABC man, the guys at the top end
of the (age) market.
’We redesigned because we want Maxim to look as well as it reads - the
design perhaps hasn’t kept pace with our writing.
’We have a lot of bite-sized pieces of information; men don’t buy the
magazine to read a 2,000-word essay. But we do have three long reads
every month and they are the backbone of the magazine.
’The worst approaches come from PROs who imagine they can bribe you (eg,
with expensive trips). They have to realise that we have to offer
something to the reader. In the market at first there was an element of
’us’ and ’them’ - ie saying to readers: ’you could never do this’.
’To a degree, everyone’s realised they have to up their game. If you
want to keep these guys engaged you can’t offer them yesterday’s
We are perpetually spinning every story we get hold of; presenting
bite-size information and the longer stuff which is a bit more cerebral.
That’s not to say that we want to appeal to the Jonathan Millers of this
world, but there needs to be a twist to everything.
’The exponential leaps in circulation happened two years ago. We are all
fighting over pieces of the pie now.’
LOADED - John Perry
Position: Acting editor
ABC: 371,548 (July-Dec 1999)
’The Loaded reader is 18-30, but on average 25, single with a keen
interest in a shapely thigh, a half-full glass and laughing until the
’We have the - perhaps slightly stupid - attitude that if something is
funny, interesting or arousing to us, then it will be to other men our
age. Loaded’s staff have the same average age as our readers plus we
make the effort to go out and ask them what they want. Keeping our ears
close to the ground is essential - which is why PR is so invaluable.
’Both FHM and us get huge audiences. We’re both commercial concerns, but
Loaded is at least trying to present an alternative, to show readers
that, with a bit of imagination, they too can have good time all of the
’Our first leads often come from ideas sent in from PROs. But, and it’s
a big but, PROs too often make the classic mistake of forgetting to read
the magazine before they get in touch. But on the whole, they know that
Loaded is about enjoying yourself by any means necessary.
’Two little things - they may seem obvious, but they’re often
over-looked - target the relevant section-head and don’t just send the
press release, send the CD/book/ice cream with it.’