A recent Grazia (May 2007) with someone who passes for being a "Celebrity". The recent covers have changed from the earlier versions of Grazia with the head of the chosen "celebrity" replacing one of the letters of the masthead. Noticeable on this cover is the fact that there isn't a any kind of special promotion such as bags or shoes inside. It may well be that May is a thin time for products (as well as "celebs"). Autumn is too far away and all the designers have released their summer items and spent thier promotional budgets. A range of even more minor "celebrities" provides some teasers.
New Kid on the Block
Every now and again a magazine comes along that captures the moment. Marie Claire did it in the Eighties, the lads' mag Loaded did it in the Nineties. Grazia's news-'n'-shoes format is doing it right now. The word its readers use again and again is 'addicted'. (Observer March 2007)
Who is Behind Grazia Launch in 2005 & How Much Did it Cost to Establish it ?
Grazia was launched two years ago based on the hunch that there was a gap in the market for a weekly magazine for women who buy monthlies. The format was inspired by Italian Grazia, a highly successful weekly fashion glossy which began in 1938. However lots of media experts said the idea would never work in Britain. Weekly magazines are notoriously expensive to pull off. EMAP, the company behind British Grazia, shelled out £16 million for the launch, making it the priciest magazine start-up ever. Meanwhile there were whispers that designer brands would not want to buy into a celebrity weekly format. 'People thought we were barking,' recalls EMAP's CEO Paul Keenan. (Observer March 2007)
How Well is it Selling?
In last month's ABC figures its circulation had risen by 23 per cent. Combined sales over a month exceed 700,000, which means it outsells Glamour - the biggest-selling women's monthly magazine. Although this is nowhere near what traditional women's weeklies used to sell in the Seventies (Observer March 2007)
Who is its Target Audience?
In a way, the very success of the magazine lies in this unpretentious 'does-what-it-says-on-the-tin' style of publishing. Grazia is neither highbrow nor lowbrow. In fact, it is 'nobrow'. The launch team realised that old-fashioned class distinctions no longer work in Britain and that people are much more complex than their old socio-economic brackets suggest. In fact, actual social mobility is slower than it's been in generations but culturally we Brits pride ourselves on our ability to move both up and down. We can be intelligent and like disposable, trivial things; be broke but still hanker after quality. (Observer March 2007)
This all-inclusive mix is a clever trick. It means successful women, who thought women's weeklies were for their grandmothers, aren't embarrassed to be seen buying the magazine. (Observer March 2007)
'I would argue that there's virtually no reading matter in it at all,' says Angela McRobbie, professor of communications at Goldsmiths College London and an expert on women's magazines. 'At the same time the tone is such that it is perfectly acceptable for a middle-class graduate to read it.' (Observer March 2007)
Is it just another traditional Woman's Magazine?
One could argue that what makes up the essence of Grazia is still traditional women's magazine fodder - diets, kids, celebrities, love affairs, shoes, recipes, dating, parties, lipstick. (Observer March 2007)
Getting the Cover Right
The right cover image is crucial. So is the right story to go with it. By publishing weekly, Grazia has managed to turn these beautiful women's lives - both pampered and chaotic - into soap operas. As Linda Grant says: 'I am truly fascinated by whether Jennifer Aniston will ever recover from Brad Pitt. Or whether Kate Moss will ever see the truth about Pete.' (Observer March 2007)
Grazia's cover images have become instantly recognisable on the newsstands - where, incidentally, the traditional monthlies now struggle to stand out. In the early days, when the magazine was still in research, the team followed Italian Grazia's lead and used models on the covers. 'But in focus groups they bombed,' says Nicola Jeal, editor of Observer Woman, who was a consultant on the launch of Grazia. 'Then we tried beautiful air-brushed pictures of celebrities but they didn't take off either. It wasn't until we tried glossy real-life paparazzi pictures that the reaction totally changed. Women loved it.' (Observer March 2007)
This Grazia is a little older than the earlier one and the masthead Grazia overlays the head of the "celebrity" in question. Its not a very elegant solution so the one above has been the preferred re-design. This one has the classic "HOT BUYS" which many do. Seems to be an obvious answer here to the typical question of how do these magazines promote consumption!
Capitalising on "Celebrity"
Despite appearances, our obsession with celebrity is a relatively new phenomenon - mushrooming in the past 10 years, partly due to the gap left by Princess Diana and partly encouraged by the popularity of bitchy gossip sites on the internet. The selling power of a handful of A-list women is difficult to underestimate. The Grazia cover girls are a select band: so far Kate Moss has featured 12 times, Jennifer Aniston 13 times, Victoria Beckham 17 times. We can't, it seems, get enough of them. Other favourites are Angelina Jolie, Sienna Miller and Madonna. (Observer March 2007)
(Sounds like a lack of "celebrities" to me :-). Anybody wishing to apply for the position of "Celebrity" can get career advice from the Celebrity Plus Training Agency [This is a full equal opportunities agency but intellectuals need not apply]
Fashionistas are Afficionados
Stores like Topshop change their stock every week and, unlike the monthly magazines, Grazia is able to keep up with the turnaround.
Tania Littlehales is the PR for Marks & Spencer. 'Our designers definitely have Grazia and Grazia's readers in mind,' she says. Last season a navy-blue trapeze-style mac which was featured in the pages immediately sold out. 'Our designers can translate looks on the catwalk to the shop so quickly these days. We call it "fast fashion". We even hold back some of our budget specifically so we can respond quickly to new trends. Fashion is quicker and a weekly magazine like Grazia can cover that.' (Observer March 2007)
Can the monthly magazines compete? (Do we care ?)
Sally O'Sullivan... thinks there's still room for both. 'There are still some fantastic magazines out there. The magazine audience in this country is huge and we produce the best in the world. A woman will very happily buy Grazia as well as her favourite monthly, be it Vogue or Marie Claire. A monthly gives you a totally different experience.' (Observer March 2007)