BULLET RICOCHETS: American men may end up getting a weekly lad magazine after all. Keith Blanchard, the former Maxim editor in chief who spent several months developing a prototype of a magazine called Bullet for Hearst earlier this year, has relocated to Bauer Publishing. The New Jersey-based company is home to a number of low-cost, newsstand-driven weeklies, including In Touch and Woman’s World. Sources close to Blanchard say Bauer hired him to create a Bullet-like product, a title loosely modeled on the British publications Nuts and Zoo. Working with him on the project is Charles Coxe, who served as Maxim’s executive editor under both Blanchard and current editor in chief Ed Needham. Neither Blanchard nor Coxe responded to calls for comment.
Of course, just because Bauer is considering starting a men’s weekly doesn’t mean it will see the concept through. Besides Hearst, Time Inc. (which owns Nuts through its U.K. subsidiary, IPC) and Emap (which publishes Zoo in the U.K. and FHM in both countries) both have looked into the idea, only to conclude the challenges are too great. One is content: Nuts and Zoo rely largely on nudity and graphic accident photos to keep readers coming back to newsstands week after week. Few think that would fly with conservative American retailers such as Wal-Mart and Kroger. On the other hand, the monthly lad titles sell a high percentage of their copies at convenience stores, which are less fussy. A bigger hurdle perhaps is that the magazines would be newsstand-driven and most newsstand shoppers in the U.S. are women, not men.
— Jeff Bercovici
COLD FUSION: While Bauer Publishing mulls a weekly lad magazine, one of the existing lad books is actually cutting its frequency. FHM is merging its January and February issues next year, publishing a single issue that will carry a higher cover price ($5.49, versus $4.99 for regular issues) and be packaged with a calendar as a premium. Last time the magazine published a combined January/February issue, in 2003, it sold 630,000 copies in its eight weeks on the newsstand. The following year’s February issue sold only 261,000 copies, and the month is also typically a slow one for advertising. “It made good sense for us to recombine the two issues,” said a spokeswoman. An Emap source added the company “hoped February would have more traction on the newsstand, but it didn’t.”
CHANGING BEATS: Gretchen Gunlocke Fenton is saying good-bye to editorial and hello to public relations. Town & Country’s fashion director is joining Chanel as executive director of p.r., fashion. Before joining Town & Country, where she was for six years, Gunlocke Fenton worked at Vogue, J. Crew and Harper’s Bazaar.
At Chanel, she is replacing Anne Fahey, who left in April to join Cartier. Gunlocke Fenton will be in charge of all the p.r. in fashion, accessories and haute couture, reporting to Rebekah Hirsch McCabe, Chanel’s senior vice president of p.r. She starts at Chanel on Dec. 13.
— Marc Karimzadeh