Esquire magazine has called for a truce in the covermounts war between men’s titles because they no longer make commercial sense.
The National Magazine Company publication, which has mounted books or tapes on its covers for each of the past five issues, believes it can attract just as many one-off readers through striking covers and editorial specials.
Covermounts have been a mainstay of the men’s press over the past three years and have been central to its marketing strategy of generating sampling through investment in reader benefits.
“It is no longer taken as read that a covermount will lift sales,” says Esquire publisher John Wisbey. “It’s now the case that covermounts pretty much neutralise each other.”
When covermounts were introduced, they could lift a magazine’s sales by as much as 30 per cent. However, circulations of men’s titles often fluctuate by as much as 20 per cent, as a result of their cover pictures and competitors’ editorial.
“The consumer has become a little cynical,” says Wisbey. “There are so many men willing to sample magazines without a covermount that it is commercial suicide to use one.”
Peter Stuart, publishing director of rival GQ, agrees. “It’s rare for Esquire to be right, but this time I think it is,” he says. “In months when everyone goes out carrying a balloon or whistle, no-one’s circulation is lifted.”
Wisbey has reserved the right to covermount anthologies of Esquire articles as brand extensions rather than as give-aways.