Wednesday, February 07, 2007

£18m just for a Look

With the launch of IPC's new women's weekly Look on Tuesday (Feb 6), I now know what it feels like to have £18m-worth of magazine in my hands.

And it's ... £18m for this?

I can feel myself turning into Tufton-Bufton. £18m so that we know where to buy "Sienna's Bag", "Kate's Boots" and "Nicole's Bracelet". £18m so we can go and join in the "Shoe Frenzy At New Look". All cover lines from the first issue to go on sale and a pretty good intimation of what this magazine is about: shopping and celebrities.

Did IPC really need to get the staff to go and stay with potential readers to come up with this stuff? Just how academically rigorous was all that "ethnography"?

Was the editor a trifle disappointed that Kylie dumped Olivier the day before the magazine came out, thus rendering pages 46 and 47 ("Friends Beg Kylie:'Dump Olivier'") redundant at a stroke? Look at these datelines and weep! Sunday Feb 4, Monday Feb 5, Monday Feb 5 with ugc.

Were the readers at all surprised at discovering that one of the main Real Life stories concerned the young woman who came out of the Cambodian forest – a story which has been all over the media. True, Look customised it by bolting on a couple of paragraphs with comments from a psychologist and a psychiatrist but even so to label it exclusive when it has already appeared here, here, here, here and probably quite a few other places – like every media outlet in the world – besides is stretching the term somewhat.

On the plus side, it is very nicely produced, there are tons of pics of celebs and those who pass for celebs, there's lots of magazine craft on show and a stack of information about where to buy things and how much to pay. So, on this score, very well done, the 31 listed editorial staff.

But £18m ...

And the website appears to be hidden from the search spiders.

When I Googled "Look magazine" or even "Look magazine IPC" I found articles written about Look, but the closest I came to an IPC site when I tried on Thursday February 8 was a subscription offer which read: "Sorry, this offer cannot be found. You can now take advantage of our latest deals, available throughout the site." I eventually found the magazine's site by accident, via the IPC parent site.

Eighteen million pounds sterling and the magazine does not even have an instantly top-of-the-search-engine presence when it launches? What madness is this, Mr Hollamby? In the fast-moving worlds of celebrity and fashion, readers in the target age range of 18 to 30 cannot even wait two days to get an update, according to the editor of Us magazine (which appears to operate in very similar territory) in this clip.

One way or another I'm afraid that Look might just be the launch too far for me because we really don't need it and it doesn't do anything new or revolutionary. And once you've realised that we really don't need this magazine, we don't really need any of them, do we? And I'm not convinced that it's even especially good of its kind.

The only thing which all of that £18m will inspire people to do is to buy things, not even to make or do anything, simply consume. Try this for size, ladies.

£18m ... what else would that get in this world where more people don't even have access to clean water. If you want to make yourself feel really disgusted, go to the Gapminder site and view the world's inequalities in really effective graphic form. See where £18m would fit into that vision.

A footballer
A fair bit of fishing
A 9/11 Mastermind
Some social enterprises
More science teachers
A bit of e-voting
Rather a lot of help for people who need it


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