Northern & Shell is testing the launch of Hot Stars, the celebrity supplement distributed free with OK! magazine, as a standalone title. This will be N&S’s second assault on the celebrity magazines sector this year.
Early this year it launched New!, a weekly title competing directly with IPC Media’s celebrity weekly, Now.
The trial is being run in the Irish markets, and Hot Stars is available in Sainsbury’s stores as a standalone title. New!, which was provisionally titled Wow! (MW December 19, 2002) is also available in Northern Ireland.
Hot Stars was launched last year, and the industry labelled it as a direct rip-off of rival EMAP’s successful Heat magazine. Industry insiders say that the launch of Hot Stars as a standalone title will be cause for concern for Heat.
One press buyer says: “The roll out of Hot Stars as a standalone magazine is unlikely to cannibalise sales of its own recently launched New!, since it caters for a slightly older market. But Hot Stars targets a much younger market, which is the same market that Heat caters for.”
According to the latest July to December 2002 Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABCs) figures, OK! magazine increased its circulation by ten per cent period on period and 30 per cent year on year to 632,791 copies a week.