Is A War Brewing Between The Laddie Mags?

Fraternity row on the magazine rack is getting a few new houses, as a new “laddie” magazine hits the newsstand this month, and another may join it shortly. Fueled by the success of the competitive women’s print market, the publishing houses appear poised to target the underserved male segment.

Among the possible entries may be an American edition of Time Inc.’s highly successful British men’s magazine Loaded, which is second only in U.K. circulation to EMAP’s FHM. While the corporate suits are insisting there’s no plan to launch Loaded stateside, one senior editor at the magazine tells us, “It might be soon.”

According to the latest ABC figures from the U.K., FHM was still the most-read men’s magazine, with a circulation of 550,894 – but that was down 17.5% from last year. The number three magazine, Dennis Publishing’s Maxim, also saw a double-digit decline in its circulation. Sandwiched between the two is Loaded, which bucked the trend and posted increases in circulation in the first six months of the year.

“Time is looking at the young men's magazine market. We're doing some preliminary fact-finding,” says Time Inc. spokesman Peter Costiglio.

Time Inc. acquired Loaded via its purchase of IPC Media, which launched the laddie title in 2001. “When AOL Time Warner purchased us last year it was always the intention for IPC to look at launching Time Inc. titles over here in the UK, and vice versa,” says IPC spokeswoman Julie York from her office in London. “Although we are progressing with this activity, there are no firm plans in place yet and no exact titles identified.”

Yet internal moves in London this week have raised speculation that Loaded staff members may be preparing their passports. Loaded shifted long-time editor Keith Kendrick to the new post of group editor, new product development. His task will be to spearhead IPC’s growth. York says the move is “unrelated” to any possible U.S. expansion.

Meantime, back in the States, a new cleavage-laden title aimed at men busted onto the scene this month. Ramp magazine’s debut issue, complete with actress-turned cover girl Jolene Blalock wearing a lot less than her uniform plus on-the-cover teases about sex and NASCAR.

Its target will be the 27 to 34 year old, that president/publisher Paul Turcotte believes have outgrown the younger-skewing titles like FHM. “This is a recognition that there’s a new market developing and that market has been created from the success of the laddie books.” Yet he says there are 2 million men leaving those magazines each year that may not quite be ready for the established titles like GQ or Esquire. They hope to find a middle ground with a more “sophisticated” take on all things male – from extreme sports to sex advice columns. Yet since it will be newsstand driven, expect a babe-of-the-month.

Ramp’s oversized package, with an inch on conventional magazines (it’s all about size, guys) will be bi-monthly for the first two issues and will publish monthly beginning in March 2003. Its rate base is 240,000.

Among the advertisers in the first book are Xbox, JVC, Gravis, and Phat Farm. 2Xist is also placing ads in the November issue, says 2Xist EVP Jeff Danzer. “It’s a different person that’s going to be reading that magazine. It’s a little more sophisticated.” As for its 34-double-D attitude, Danzer points out they’re selling underwear. “We need some sort of sensuality,” he says.

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