You can say what you like about the state of the women’s magazine market, but (celebrity weddings aside) a celebrity divorce is their raison d’être, bread and butter and money-maker all rolled into one sweet circulation joy.
And when B&T phoned around the nation’s top weekly titles to get the goss on today’s shock news that Angelina Jolie had filed for divorce from husband of 12 years, Brad Pitt, the joy was palpable.
B&T has updated this story and you can read the comments from the WHO Weekly editor here.
“Far from me to take pleasure from someone’s break-up but, yes, this should prove a very, very good seller for us,” Woman’s Day executive editor Claire Issac told B&T. “It’s the biggest show business story in the last few years. It’s easily the biggest story since Michael Jackson’s death.
“We haven’t had a big story like this for a very long time and you need to remember magazines don’t get the sales they used to. But we’d expect a massive upswing (on sales) with this. It could be as much as twenty, thirty per cent.”
Isaac said the Bauer-owned Woman’s Day would not be doing a ‘special edition’ of Brad and Ange’s failed nuptials and doubted whether advertisers would flock to the titles on the promise of markedly more reader eyeballs. “They certainly do (advertise more) when we do a wedding edition,” she said, “but we’ll probably need the extra pages for the editorial we’re going to run because we’ll need to give it (the split) all the coverage we can.”
Over at NW headquarters, its editor, Mark Brandon, told B&T his title had sniffed there was trouble in the Brad/Ange romance for some time now.
“NW has been reporting on this story since May,” Brandon said, “and we were the first to bring Brad and Angelina back to the cover in May after a very long hiatus in the Australian weekly market.
“Readers responded to this cover overwhelmingly – it’s probably our biggest sale of the year so far – because there’s still a strong emotional connection to these people and this story.
“An A-list divorce is the biggest of news stories for a gossip magazine – everyone wants to know why, what happened, who cheated.
“It’s a huge day for the NW team – this kind of news is what we are about. Obviously it’s very sad about Brad and Ange, but at the same time, it’s a strong reminder of the power of celebrity and celebrity mags,” he said.
But would the story bring new readers to the weekly titles? Namely the Millennials who, it must be said, have proven no fans of print in recent times.
Woman’s Day’s Isaac added: “Yes, our readers are older and they’ve followed the Brad and Jen story and the Brad and Angelina story for some time now. But I do think Millennials care; they watch their movies, they think Angelina’s gorgeous and they’re the last great Hollywood couple.
“Our readers would expect us to examine it in depth, get to the core problems and explain what happened and give them a bit more detail. What readers get from the internet these days is what’s happened, so it’s a magazine’s job to provide alternative, deeper coverage. We’ll do a lot of retrospective stuff and talking about what could’ve gone wrong and all the rumours around their relationship,” she said.