Mass market weeklies have had a rough time of it in recent years. But ACP has opened an early Christmas present in the form of the recent double issue of Woman's Day, whichclocked in at over 200 pages and took the title as biggest ever issue.
ACP's commercial director Paul Gardiner is understandably chuffed at the sizeable beast and while he says this issue is always a big one as it's on sale for two weeks, "being a bit more pro-active about how we've positioned it to the market" paid dividends, with 74 ad pages and a 77 percent market share, ACP's biggest ever in the weekly women’s mag space (in comparison, its main rival New Zealand's Woman's Weekly had ten and New Idea had 11).
"We went hard on marketing it to the trade and positioned it as the biggest issue of the year," he says. "We had to get heavier paper stock to hold the magazine together. That's physically the most pages you can do with the print set up. Any bigger and it would have to be perfect bound."
As is now more frequently the case in magazines (and pretty much every other media channel), many of those pages consist of sponsored content, with big spreads from Nestle, Countdown and The Shopping Channel.
"As an industry, I don't think we've done a good enough job of marketing ourselves," he says. "We need to think differently about our products and we can't just sit back and think everyone knows about the benefits of magazines. Online has done a great job of that. But we're not being aggressive enough in the market. ... We've been driving most of our marketing through point of sale as opposed to above the line. TV hasn't really worked for us."
Woman's Day became "the number one magazine in every way" late last year when it finally bested the readership of its long-standing arch-rival New Zealand Woman's Weekly, adding to its win on the circulation front. And Gardiner says the title has had some really good numbers this year too.
In the latest figures, Woman's Daycharted a readership increase of seven percent for 841,000 readers (the largest jump by the major weeklies) and a slight decrease in average net paid sales from mid-2011, going from 105,088 to 104,147.
An ACP release after the numbers were released said: "A key factor in its success lies in winning the battle for supermarket sales, where Woman’s Day sells more than twice as many copies as its two nearest competitors combined. This title alone reaches more New Zealand women than all daily metropolitan newspapers combined."
With a relatively recent move to Webstar "giving it a boost" and leading to "better looking products, better paper stock", Gardiner believes ACP has definitely taken a step up this year. And with the rebrand to Bauer NZ, which is currently taking place and set to be completed by early next year, he'll be hoping for another step up next year.