Marie Claire’s revered editor of 18 years, Jackie Frank, has spoken candidly to B&T about the future of magazines, highlighting the need for a rationalisation and stressing the importance of separating magazines from newspapers in discussions over the death of ‘print’.
Frank, who has led the Pacific Magazines’ fashion monthly since its launch in 1995, joins Women’s Weekly editor Helen McCabe, Magazine Publishers Association (MPA) executive chairman Robin Parkes and Mamamia founder Mia Freedman who have all publicly voiced their opinions about the medium’s future in the last two weeks.
Her comments come days after rumours about the closure of Bauer Media’s Madison hit mainstream press, and less than a month after the same publisher axed weekly title, Grazia.
“For the big titles there has got to be a rationalisation of magazines which we are seeing,” Frank told B&T.
But leading magazine brands are still an extremely convincing business prospect, she said, even if media agencies have been feeding their advertisers a different story.
Marie Claire’s monthly readership is still undeniably strong, she stressed – (the title’s monthly circulation was 90,519 in the last ABC audit – less 10% on its result the year before).
“It’s very easy for people who access their information for free to point the finger. But almost 450,000 readers come to Marie Claire each month. That’s five times the amount of spectators at a football game. Those numbers are not to be scoffed at.”
Furthermore, Frank believes magazines have been bogged down by the bleak story around newspapers, which are fighting to stay relevant in the world of the 24 hours news cycle.
According to Frank, the two are very different beasts. Women don’t go to the monthlies for news, they go there, overwhelmingly, to view fashion and when it comes to consuming fashion content, Frank believes the printed magazine is unrivalled.
“There has been a lot of chatter and magazines and newspapers have been lumped in as one great big media – ‘Print’. I think newspapers need to be separated out from magazines, and within magazines you’ve got to separate the strong brands from just the magazines.
“There is no other better medium of looking at fashion than in paper product. There are ways of garnering information; there are ways to go shopping. In terms of a news cycle then yes, you cannot compete with what digital has to offer in terms of 24/7 accessibility and immediacy but we are not part of that cycle. That’s not what women come to magazines for."
That’s not to say that multi-platform integration isn’t valuable. For its current issue, Marie Claire, which features the cast of Revenge on its cover, orchestrated a full 360 degree integration across Seven properties , including pop ups of the cover during weekly broadcasts of Revenge on Channel Seven, a TVC promoting a holiday to the Hamptons competition, and behind the scenes footage of the shoot on Yahoo!7 websites. The Revenge website now also pushes through to Marie Claire.
“One of the objectives of Revenge in terms of Seven marketing was to elevate the show to a fashion level and we saw a mutually beneficial collaboration so we sat down with Seven marketing to discuss how we could support eachother.”
The initiative has seen the current issue of Marie Claire feature in the UK’s Daily Mail, the Ellen Show and E!News. According to Frank the partnership is exemplary of what magazines should be doing to further engage their audiences.
“Marie Claire has always tried to push the boundaries and this is just making use of all the properties that are available to us. It’s about thinking smarter and harder. We need to excite and surprise our readers.”