EMAP has been accused by media buyers of “hitting the panic button” after presenting plans to change the shape of its Car title for the second time in three months.
The move comes ahead of the next Audit Bureau of Circulations figures, due out in February.
The magazine was relaunched in a new square format in August as part of a wider revamp, which also included a new layout. The changes were part of move to “focus on the magazine’s strengths” such as photography and followed a 9% drop in circulation to 94,033.
But the publisher has already decided to axe the square format and return to a standard rectangular magazine shape.
A spokeswoman denies it is returning exactly to its original shape. She says: “Car is not returning to its original-sized format but is increasing its vertical height by 3cm to satisfy readers who have fed back their appreciation of the recently re-launched magazine.”
But press buyers say the latest change is more likely to be linked with recent statements from EMAP predicting poor revenue results.
A source says that the move will anger agencies, who have spent months convincing clients that the format was right for them to advertise in.
He says: “I wish EMAP had given it a chance to run for more than three months.”
Another press director adds that the square look was “fresher and more luxurious”.