MEDIA: PPA Awards 1999 - Innovation and imagination were commended by the judges in this year’s PPA Awards. Mark Tungate looks at some of the most outstanding titles in the UK magazine market

Rugged individualism won the highest marks at this year’s Periodical Publishers Association Awards. The judges came down firmly in favour of titles which bucked trends.

Rugged individualism won the highest marks at this year’s

Periodical Publishers Association Awards. The judges came down firmly in

favour of titles which bucked trends.

In a market crammed with men’s magazines, the judges voted Men’s Health

as Consumer Magazine of the Year. The title eschews cover pictures of

scantily-clad babes in favour of images of hunks. Cover lines focus on

unfashionable concerns such as losing weight and building


Elsewhere, John Brown Publishing’s IKEA title, Room, is Customer

Magazine of the Year. The prize was snatched from Redwood, which has won

for the past two years with Dulux’s Colour. John Brown also beat the

category odds, with only two shortlisted titles against Redwood’s


Although the magazine sector is thriving, entries were down from 876 in

1998 to 830 this year. A total of 104 individuals and titles were

shortlisted across 19 categories. Below is a run-down of winners in the

categories of most relevance to our readers, as well as a full table of

all the winners.


Winner: Men’s Health

Publisher: Rodale Press

Men’s Health took on lad’s bible FHM to win this coveted category. While

the title’s ABC figure is hardly a threat to FHM - 283,359 at the end of

last year, versus 751,493 - FHM’s growth has slowed, implying that the

lads’ market has been stretched as far as it will go.

Perhaps because it offers an alternative, Men’s Health is attracting new

readers and saw a year-on-year increase of 25.9%.

When it first launched, the magazine bore all the hallmarks of its US

ownership. The covers looked faintly cheesy and the editorial focus on

self-improvement seemed drastically out of step with the era of the

lager-swilling, footie-loving ’new lad’.

Since then, many new lads have hit 30 and started worrying about their

beer guts. The covers stand out amid racks full of FHM wannabes. At the

same time, the editorial has found a unique voice somewhere between

cheeky and intelligent.

The judges were particularly impressed that the magazine ’manages to be

an acceptable read for women’ and claim that it ’shows the way men are

thinking’. Clearly, times have changed.


Winner: Room

Publisher: John Brown Publishing

Interiors seem to have taken over from dining out as this year’s chic

preoccupation, with the broadsheets bringing out new supplements to

capitalise on the successful emergence of magazine titles such as

Wallpaper and Living Etc.

But IKEA’s Room takes a different stance, mixing its interiors coverage

with a wide range of general features, sometimes on subjects that veer

toward the bizarre.

The title also has an international feel which no doubt goes down well

with its target audience.

Overall, the eclectic editorial and slick design reflect accurately

IKEA’s aspirational brand values. Regular money-off vouchers also add to

its appeal.

Producing the magazine makes sense for IKEA in more than one


When it ran an article on wooden floors in tandem with a discount, UK

stores had to buy up all the European stock to cope with the demand.

The magazine’s figures are impressive, both on the newsstand and


EPOS figures point to a total circulation of 280,000.

According to the judges: ’Room has taken the customer magazine to the

next level.’


Winner: Official UK PlayStation Mag

Publisher: Future Publishing

Sony’s PlayStation brand is one of the success stories of the 90s and

its official magazine exudes a similar air of confidence. It has

transcended the nerd-appeal of traditional computer titles to create a

sector of its own, attracting a clutch of high-profile lifestyle


In fact, the magazine is often described as one of the most successful

computer magazines in history, selling more than 11,000 copies every 24

hours in the UK. Its January to July 1998 ABC figure was 314,114. This

had risen to 380,186 by the end of 1998. Supplements detailed gaming

tips and free demos of games all combined to boost readership.

The only danger is that PlayStation users will desert the format and

move on to something new, rendering both the technology and the magazine

obsolete. But Sony won’t let that happen without a fight, and is already

planning to cut the price of the current console while it gears up for

the launch of PlayStation 2.

In the meantime, the title is edgy and vivid and it’s not hard to see

why it lured the judges away from strong contenders, such as Emap

Metro’s Q and Haymarket’s F1 Racing.


Winner: Building

Publisher: Builder Group

The win must be particularly satisfying for the Builder Group. Last year

it gutted Building, modernised its interior and gave it a brand new


It was the first redesign in 20 years.

As well as hiring different writers and launching new sections, it

expanded its regional coverage and adopted a punchier editorial


The result is that Building has gone from creaking Victorian folly to

streamlined post-modern edifice.

The judges said it had achieved its goal in becoming ’the voice of its




Publisher: IPC Magazines

Dinosaur of rock it may be, but NME is clearly able to impress both

punters and PPA judges in a new medium. Figures from ABC//Electronic

show that in the six months from July to December 1997 to January to

July 1998, the number of users increased from 100,000 to 140,000 and the

number of page impressions from three million to more than four


Like all worthwhile web sites, succeeds by delivering something

users want; in this case, tickets and records - which can be ordered

online after reading reviews - and live broadcasts from gigs and

festivals. The judges said that the site made ’impressive use of the

interactive medium to leverage the printed product’.

The printed product certainly needs it. Although NME is number two in

its sector, below Q, its circulation was down 9.5% to 90,626 according

to ABC figures to the end of December 1998.


Winner: Hello!

Publisher: Hello!

If Hello! proves one thing, it is that gossip travels. The magazine is

now almost as much of a global icon as the celebrities it writes


It sells in 68 countries and last year launched in the United States,

Malaysia and Ghana. Territories that showed significant growth included

Australia, Cyprus, Greece, Singapore and South Africa.

The title has performed less well in the UK, with its last ABC figure

slipping 11.1% year-on-year to 510,552, putting it at number seven in

the women’s weeklies sector. Its closest competitor is OK, at number


But while Hello! has rivals in almost all of its markets, none of them

quite manage to replicate its combination of unashamed snobbery,

sentiment, photo spreads and celebrity interviews. The Zsa Zsa Gabor of

women’s magazines will be around for a while yet.


Winner: Family Circle

Publisher: IPC Southbank Publishing

Family Circle’s campaign highlighted a problem faced by almost every

family at some point: bullying. In fact, the campaign was started in

response to readers’ letters about their children’s experiences.

The campaign had very clear objectives: to raise awareness of bullying

and to improve communication between parents, children and schools.

It appears to have worked. Out of 120 features on bullying in national,

regional and broadcast media, with an audience reach of 126 million,

Family Circle was credited in 95% of the coverage. A special phone line

was set up to handle requests for more campaign posters from schools and


The results of the campaign were presented to David Blunkett, secretary

of state for education and employment, at a press reception held by

Family Circle at the House of Commons. At the event, Blunkett said the

government would allocate pounds 22m to anti-bullying projects.

While Family Circle itself clearly benefited from the campaign in terms

of the publicity it generated, the magazine also drew attention to a

serious and too-often overlooked problem.


Winner: Lindsay Nicholson, Prima

Publisher: G&J

It can’t be easy to survive in the cut-throat world of women’s

monthlies, but Lindsay Nicholson clearly has what it takes. Prima’s ABC

stood at 510,142 at the end of 1998 and the magazine still looks fresh

and cheerful in an over-crowded market.

As well as editing Prima, last year Nicholson launched Your Home, a new

monthly which scored a first ABC of 170,000. Another spin-off title,

Prima Baby, proved so successful that it has increased its frequency

from quarterly to bi-monthly.

The judges praised Nicholson’s ability to edit a best-selling title

while pioneering two new consumer magazines, adding that she obviously

knew her readership ’inside out’.


Winner: Sarah Woodhead, Menswear

Publisher: Emap Fashion

Previous attempts to give Menswear a sharper image have failed, but new

editor Sarah Woodhead has succeeded by bringing an ’alternative vision’

to the title, according to the PPA judges.

A hands-on editor, she has put her personal stamp on the magazine’s

content, bringing humour and glamour to the subject.

Woodhead has overseen a 10% hike in paid-for circulation after years of

decline, with a 70% average renewal rate. Newsstand sales are double

their target, despite a 100% price rise, and according to its entry

details the magazine has pounds 116,813 worth of ads booked for


Perhaps most impressive of all, Menswear’s contribution to Emap

Fashion’s bottom line has increased by 1500%.


Winner: Marcus Arthur

Publisher: BBC Worldwide

Marcus Arthur knows the value of advance publicity. Before launching BBC

Good Homes, he headed a PR campaign targeting the news trade and


He organised sampling with the Evening Standard and Radio Times, and

contra-deal competitions with Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

The PPA judges credit him with achieving ’fantastic availability and

positioning, as well as impressive ad business, before the magazine hit

the newsstand’. He met the first-year target of 10,000 subscriptions in

five months. The title’s ABC at the end of last year was 145,361.

In the meantime, Arthur has managed to revitalise BBC Homes & Antiques,

of which he is also publisher. The title now has an ABC figure of

213,571, up 5.9% year on year.


Winner: Kit Gould

Publisher: IDG Communications

Standing out in the PC business sector is every bit as difficult as

keeping your head above water in the women’s glossies market.

Kit Gould, publisher of PC Advisor, has achieved it by offering readers

something different - or as the magazine’s masthead puts it, ’Expert

advice in plain English’.

The magazine’s supplements, guides and booklets are considered so

helpful that one of them sold more than 50,000 copies, providing a 100%

return on investment.

But Gould also listens to the readers, having commissioned extensive

research into their needs, as well as those of the industry. He has also

widened advertisers’ knowledge of the market.

As a result, advertising pagination has increased by 36%, subscriptions

by 35% and ad page yields by 64%.

The PPA judges praised Gould for seizing publishing opportunities,

describing him as ’a good lateral thinker who demonstrates all-round

publishing skill in a competitive market’.


(less than 25 employees)

Winner: Alexandra Hobson

Publisher: Aim Publications

Alexandra Hobson is described as ’the driving force’ behind the success

of You & Your Wedding. The title has achieved a 26% circulation increase

and the last issue of 1998 was the largest-ever UK wedding magazine at

476 pages. In 1998, advertising volumes rose by 26% and revenues by


Not bad, considering Hobson has only five ad sales staff and no

promotions team.

Hobson also helped grow circulation and advertising in Scotland by

launching a free supplement, You & Your Wedding Scotland. The PPA judges

said her professionalism ’easily matches any larger company’.


CATEGORY                      TITLE           WINNER

Columnist of the Year         Nursing         Jane Salvage

(business and professional)   Times

Specialist Writer of the      Maxim           Ian Belcher

Year (consumer)

Editorial Campaign of         Family          -

the Year                      Circle

Publisher of the Year         You & Your      Alexandra Hobson

(less than 25 employees)      Wedding

Intl. Magazine of the Year    International   -

(business and professional)   Investment

International Magazine of     Hello!          -

the Year (consumer)

Designer of the Year          Computer Arts   Phil Cheesbrough

(business and professional)

Designer of the Year          Conde Nast      Robin Harvey

(consumer)                    Traveller

Writer of the Year            Real            Alistair Blair

(business and professional)   Business

Writer of the Year            Auto Express    Anthony Rowlinson


Editor of the Year            Menswear        Sarah Woodhead

(business and professional)

Editor of the Year            Prima           Lindsay Nicholson


Publisher of the Year         PC Advisor      Kit Gould

(business and professional)

Publisher of the Year         Good Homes,     Marcus Arthur

(consumer)                    Home &


Interactive Magazine of         -

the Year

Consumer Specialist           Official UK     -

Magazine of the Year          PlayStation


Customer Magazine of          Room            -

the Year

Business and Professional     Building        -

Magazine of the Year

Consumer Magazine of          Men’s Health    -

the Year

CATEGORY                      PUBLISHER         SPONSOR

Columnist of the Year         Emap              Cradley Print

(business and professional)   Healthcare

Specialist Writer of the      Dennis            F.E. Burman

Year (consumer)               Publishing

Editorial Campaign of         IPC Southbank     Communication Skills

the Year                      Publishing        Europe

Publisher of the Year         Aim               Robert Fleming

(less than 25 employees)      Publications      Insurance Brokers

Intl. Magazine of the Year    City Financial    Mercury International

(business and professional)   Communications

International Magazine of     Hello!            MMC

the Year (consumer)

Designer of the Year          Future            Atelier

(business and professional)   Publishing

Designer of the Year          Conde Nast        Tower Publishing

(consumer)                    Publications      Services

Writer of the Year            Caspian           Close Brothers

(business and professional)   Publishing

Writer of the Year            Dennis            Southernprint

(consumer)                    Publishing

Editor of the Year            Emap Fashion      The Polestar Group

(business and professional)

Editor of the Year            G&J               John Menzies


Publisher of the Year         IDG               TPL Printers

(business and professional)   Communications

Publisher of the Year         BBC Worldwide     WH Smith News


Interactive Magazine of       IPC Magazines     BT

the Year

Consumer Specialist           Future            Seymour

Magazine of the Year          Publishing

Customer Magazine of          John Brown        Contract Paper

the Year                      Publishing

Business and Professional     The Builder       Anite

Magazine of the Year          Group

Consumer Magazine of          Rodale Press      Comag

the Year


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