Will Wired UK magazine be another flash in the pan?

P12_wiredukWill it be a case of second time lucky when a UK version of technology lifestyle magazine Wired is launched at the beginning of next year?Its publisher, Condé Nast, is gearing up for its entrance into the market, and is already talking to advertising agencies about how they can best support its launch (MW last week).

The publisher will have to be wary of the path taken by its predecessor, Guardian Media Group, when it struck a deal with the then US publisher Wired Ventures to launch the magazine in the UK in 1995. Less than two years later it was axed.

In the US, Condé Nast stepped in to buy the title in 1998 and eventually bought its accompanying website. Wired launched in the US 15 years ago and today has a paid-for circulation of over 700,000. Not only will it be launching a UK version next year, but Condé Nast is planning to roll it out across Europe.

Jamie Jouning, associate editor of GQ, is being brought in as publisher of Wired UK, while GQ publishing director Jamie Bill will oversee both GQ and Wired in the same role. Jouning has already been telling press buyers what to expect.

MindShare investment director for publishing Paul Thomas says that if a publisher were to look to launch a magazine, the digital space would be the safest bet.

However, some press buyers question the timing of a new launch, given the economic climate. “I think it’s brave and if I were to launch something it would be in the digital space to piggyback off the growth of digital. It’s an area which will continue to grow, in spite of any economic downturn,” Thomas adds.

Niche market

Initiative press group head Vanessa Doyle says she is surprised that anyone would want to launch a magazine right now, but adds that, in the light of the recent strong performance of niche, men’s magazines, “you’ve got to expect it will be asuccess”.

It also helps that there is no current magazine that occupies the same space as Wired. As Thomas points out, there are the pure technology magazines such as PC World, lifestyle titles such as GQ and gadget magazines such as Stuff. “It falls between those three stool legs. I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t potentially work. It is niche, but as an advertiser you want to reach the affluent, 30-plus upmarketmale, so there is potential there.”

Jouning says its research shows that the current economic climate presents it with an “opportunity, not a threat”. “Technology is playing an increasingly important role in contemporary culture, and people in this country have a genuine desire to engage,” Jouning says.

But the US culture is vastly different to the UK, and Thomas says a local version will need to ensure that it is properly tailored to the interests and tastes of the UK reader.

Jouning says that while it will share some content with the US edition, it will have a slightly different tone. “It will certainly develop a unique voice… a little more irreverent at times perhaps, but always authoritative and sophisticated, like its US counterpart,” he says.

While the magazine is likely tobe found among men’s lifestylemagazines, he sees its true positioning as a combination of the Economist, GQ, Vanity Fair and New Scientist – that is, fact-based magazines with reputations for high editorial standards.

Camille Alarcon

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