Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Will Gaz7etta Work?

[Image credits: Gaz7etta cover from Marketing Week, and the widely used Helvetica Man symbol by Lupton and Miller].

The end of October saw the launch of a new men's magazine from Bauer Media, designed to become the male equivalent of the (very successful) Grazia. This pilot issue was distributed inside copies of the aforementioned Grazia as well as men's titles such as Mojo, Empire and Golf World, with a full launch planned for next year. I was interested to see what this new magazine could bring to the table, and indeed who it was aimed at, as I often find that Grazia provides good fashion and reading material but very few featured products that are within my budget. I use it as an aspirational magazine rather than a direct shopping catalogue, and most of my peers are in a similar position. Taking a look at the front cover of Gaz7etta, it seems that some of its content is also marketed at the more affluent members of society (supercars, anyone?), but other features are more suited to the 'lad's mag' genre, as they feature an innuendo-based headline on Katy Perry, and the obligatory football story. I am also intrigued by the promise that you can make £1500 this lunchtime, because my automatic and very pessimistic assumption is that men up and down the country will be turning into gigolos or selling their grannies in order to achieve this goal. With this juxtaposition of cover stories in mind, I am inclined to believe that Gaz7etta hasn't yet honed in on a specific target audience.

Inside the magazine, the editor's letter adds further confusion, as his casual way of speaking - 'I know what you're thinking: dude, this is awesome. Which is true' - doesn't quite sit comfortably with Grazia's description of Gaz7etta as 'The new style magazine for men'. Have you heard any stylish, supercar-owning man say the words 'dude' or 'awesome' in the last ten years? I thought not. The editor also says that the bizarre title spelling of Gaz7etta is not about 'trademarking the title', but he claims it's about the seven reasons for enjoying the publication, which just sounds a little tame to me. There would be nothing wrong with taking out the pointless number and never speaking of it again.

When exploring the content, I must admit that a lot of the shorter pieces are very inventive, such as the traditional format of Going Up/Going Down popularity charts being presented as 'Buy and Sell: this week's winners and losers in life's stock exchange', and a very revealing look at celebrity donors to political parties in 'Who's Funding Whom?'. But then the annoying juxtapositions start again, with a serious political comment box nestled next to a photo story of Heidi Montag trying to get publicity on Malibu Beach, which seems to be lifted straight out of Heat Magazine. When I reach the fashion shoot, which is very well presented, I half expect a sidebar discussing Keith Lemon or Kerry Katona (thankfully there was none present). I am genuinely surprised, and very relieved, to find that they have allowed good content to sit undisturbed on the page. I must also point out the strapline for the photoshoot, which tells the reader 'Your soundtrack: Joy Division. Your reading material: William S. Burroughs'; this is such a subtle but clever detail, immediately getting you into the mood of the shoot and also the kind of man that the fashion would suit. I wish that more women's magazines would adopt such a strapline, instead of telling us that everyone is wearing shearling and expecting us to just get on with it. Setting the mood is very important when describing fashion, and this is something that Gaz7etta has done well - in fact, their style pages are among the best in the whole publication.

So, after reading Gaz7etta from cover to cover, what is my final verdict? It must be incredibly difficult launching a new male magazine, but this project seems to have given itself extra hurdles in trying to reach out to a very wide range of men. The 'something for everyone' approach would be far more acceptable if content was divided into clear sections and articles or stories sat well with each other on the page. Gaz7etta also needs to decide its voice - is it a sophisticated older brother, or a lad who wants to talk celebrities whilst pretending he can afford a posh coat and Clinique skincare? And if it really is a style magazine then this element should take precedence over endless football references, because not all men enjoy football or relate to it. I will be intrigued to see which changes, if any, have been implemented when Gaz7etta launches properly in 2011, and if that daft name has been scrapped.

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