Adapt, rather than die

Jo Francis
Friday, November 20, 2015

Jo Francis wonders whether some of our major magazine publishers have lost the art of reinvention.

What happens when a once-stellar product falls to earth?

In the case of FHM magazine, the answer for Bauer seems to be to close it.

News that its stable mate Zoo magazine was also to be ‘suspended’ came as no surprise whatsoever. The weekly lads’ mag phase always seemed to me to be just that, a passing publishing phase.

FHM is, or could be, different. It has a 30-year brand heritage and lots of readers who feel a great attachment to it. It has established ‘brand extensions’ such as its  ‘100 Sexiest Women in the World’ fixture.

I can see that life is indeed tough for large publishers who are grappling with titles that at one time were absolutely coining it, and now aren’t. The print run for FHM at its peak was over a million copies, and even a decade ago it sold (SOLD!) more than 580,000 copies a month. Kerr-ching.

Recent sales were ‘just’ 66,694 making FHM a shadow of its former self.

But. Has anyone at Bauer read The Long Tail? Are you seriously telling me there wasn’t something to be done with a brand like FHM?

The irony is that Emap reinvented the title after it acquired For Him Magazine in the 1990s, resulting in soaraway success. A lot of people, dare I say it even the odd printer, made a lot of money out of FHM.

I know we now live in a very different world, with wall-to-wall digital media and whatnot, but I fear that along the way some of our big publishers have become so fixated on falling circulations, they have lost the art of reinvention.

Rather than look back in despair at what they once had, they should focus on the golden nuggets they still hold.

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