It's been four years in the making and now that the winds of economic change seem to be blowing softly, Ian Wishart's publishing company Howling at the Moon is set to launch 'Project X', a "double header" monthly magazine called His/Hers that aims to cater to both sexes.
The concept, Wishart says, is achingly simple: one magazine that caters to both males and females (the first edition, which has a print run of 10,000, features Richie McCaw on one cover and Kate Middleton on the other), with the logic being that men like to read women's magazines but wouldn't be caught dead buying them and women also enjoy reading men's content. Interestingly, there's no trans-sexual section in the middle.
"What we're saying to the prime purchaser is 'buy this and the other half will like it too'."
As for the content, he says it will be close to an M2 model, but, in keeping with the heritage of Investigate magazine, which was launched 11 years ago, it will still have elements of in-depth, investigative reporting ("That's what we do, we break stories").
"It's not really going down the celebrity track. There's no tits and bums," he says.
For example, the main story in His is a follow up on a feature in Investigate about Pike River, while the Her cover story shows the results of a poll on how the upcoming royal wedding might impact on New Zealanders' views that the country should become a republic.
"It's more upmarket analysis—but it still gives us a chance to use Kate Middleton on the cover."
Investigate has always been focused on content, rather than design. And, in order to attract more of a female market and compete with the likes of North & South, Metro and The Listener, he says the look of His/Hers has had to be improved greatly.
While there seems to be an element of gimmickry about a dual-cover mag, he says they've done their homework and the concept tested very well during the focus group stage. Still, Wishart has a very well established reputation for controversy, so it will be interesting to see whether advertisers are interested in the proposition.
"The reality is we had the numbers [Audit Bureau of Circulation figures have not been available for Investigate since 2006, when net circ was 8212], but the environment wasn't seen as being advertiser friendly. But we think the market is ready for this... I think some people are scared of controversy. But this is in the context of a much bigger offering. It's a three course meal, not a one course meal."