It's been a fairly interesting period for the ladies mags recently. The old battle between ACP's Woman's Day and NZ Magazine's Woman's Weekly was spiced up considerably after a few big editorial switcheroos and a hearty debate about the pros and cons of brands signing exclusive deals with publishers. Now there's even more excitement, with Woman’s Weekly undergoing its biggest change in more than a decade.
The weeklies have taken a big hit in the past few years in terms of circulation and both Woman's Day and Woman's Weekly have declined. At present, Woman's Day, with Sido Kitchin and Fiona Fraser now at the helm, has a higher average net paid circulation of 103,655, whereas Woman's Weekly is sitting on 70,634. It is something of a Kiwi institution, however, so its readership is 797,000, compared to Woman's Day's 774,000. But the gap is closing. So, if you happen to like boxing metaphors, you could say ACP is currently winning on points, but it's certainly no knockout blow.
There's been plenty of discussion recently about ACP's exclusive deals, as you can see in the comment thread underneath this story. ACP was cleared by the Commerce Commission after a complaint was laid by Ian Wishart and accusations were levelled at publishers after supposed dictates from on high saying there would be no editorial mentions for brands that had signed exclusive deals with competitors and that staff were not to attend their new product launches. Sandley was unable to be reached for comment on the issue, nor was Fairfax's Lynley Belton and most of the ACP team is swanning about in Fiji at the moment.
Elizabeth Arden signed a deal with ACP and we've heard that despite six product launches this year and the regular PR blast to follow them, it has received no editorial mentions in Woman's Weekly and only one mention in New Idea. APN claims to have an independent editorial policy, and while advertising support has always helped grease the editorial wheels slightly, especially in this very commercial publishing sector, it does cast a bit of a shadow over the magazine's editorial integrity (although some would say they're just being pragmatic by refusing to feature them) and, at the same time, brings into focus the negative effects these deals can have on brands if they decide go exclusive.
But away from this debate, NZ Mags is pretty happy with the big changes to its flagship title, which all came about after some thorough research of its market and a couple of months hard work from the team, led by relatively new editor Sarah Stuart. A comprehensive marketing programme encompassing TV, radio, print, outdoor, social media, online and point-of-sale has been launched to back up the release of the first new-look edition.
“From this feedback we knew the magazine needed a more contemporary look and feel," Sandley said in a press release. "This meant a fair bit of content change and the introduction of new content. We are particularly aware of the need to encourage people to take another look, in particular attracting readers aged 35-plus."
"We are confident the end result will be an increase in circulation, readership and advertising share."
The changes in the magazine covers both new content and a top to bottom re-design, including a new masthead. Features pages will have new layouts and there will be a stronger accent on lifestyle and images. There's also a fairy patriotic tone, with a slogan 'They're our stories' and '100% Kiwi content' splashed across the just-launched cover.
New columnists include Kevin Milne on consumer affairs, Kerre Woodham’s 'Short Blonde' humour column, April Ieremia on diet and fitness, Peta Mathias on entertaining and Diane Levy on parenting. In addition, MasterChef judge Simon Gault will conduct a Q&A dialogue with readers.