FRANK: A FIRST LOOK

Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — British magazine publisher Wagadon has become a fashion player with such magazines as The Face, Arena and Arena Homme Plus.
Now it’s hoping Frank will do the same in the women’s market.
The magazine’s 250-page premiere issue will appear in the U.K. Sept. 11 with an initial print run of 220,000. Advertisers in the launch issue will include Ralph Lauren and Polo Sport, MaxMara, J.P. Tod’s, Tse, Calvin Klein, Dior, Helmut Lang and Dolce & Gabbana, as well as major beauty firms and Audi cars.
There will be about 100 ad pages, which start at $8,800 (5,500 pounds) for a full-page black and white and $12,000 (7,500 pounds) for color, and 150 editorial pages.
Tina Gaudoin, who joined as editor in February from Tatler, said the aim is an eventual circulation of 90,000 to 120,000 and issues that average 100 pages to 150 pages a month — which would put Frank in direct competition with such more established titles as Harpers & Queen and Tatler. But it will have no relation to those more social, established titles published by National Magazines and Conde Nast (which also holds a 40 percent stake in Wagadon), respectively.
“We are aiming at the woman who is 25 and up, educated, opinionated and knows what she wants,” Gaudoin said in an interview at Frank’s offices in east London. “There are lots of women buying four or five different magazines because they can’t find one that speaks to them with the voice they want. That’s what we hope Frank will do.”
Gaudoin said Frank will be “fashion-led, but features-focused. We want women to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being interested in fashion, and that your level of interest in it says nothing about your I.Q.”
The editor, as well as editorial director and Wagadon founder Nick Logan, said the magazine will offer an eclectic mix of articles on such subjects as politics, the arts, food, wine and cars — but in a very British way.
“Irony is one of Britain’s great strengths and is one of the things underused by magazines. We don’t want to patronize our readers; we believe there is room for women to read 800-word articles on political life, but covered in a tongue-in-cheek way.”
Which is why Gaudoin and Logan believe Frank is the appropriate title. Wagadon spent months searching for a name and the final choice caused some publishing executives to scratch their heads in puzzlement. But Gaudoin said she has no doubt her target market will get the allusion.
Gaudoin describes Frank as a “niche” title, but says Wagadon’s track record with The Face and Arena has made it easier to sell the new concept. While Frank will be more upmarket than either of those titles, she says it still will have the same quirkiness and mix of cutting-edge and “unashamedly commercial” fashion.
But industry observers question whether the U.K. is ready for another upmarket women’s fashion title at a time when the biggest circulation gains are being made by magazines like Marie Claire, Minx and even British Elle, which increasingly emphasize sex and shock.
They also point out that the $320,000 (200,000 pounds) Wagadon is spending to support Frank’s launch is minuscule compared with the amount its competitors spend to promote their existing titles and the millions expected to be spent on upcoming launches by such companies as EMAP PLC.

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