The Rio Ferdinand brand will protect #5

The strength of the Rio Ferdinand brand will protect sports lifestyle digital magazine #5, which launches on Thursday, from the same fate as the folded free weekly print title Sport, according to publisher Made Up Media.

Managing director Danny Crouch told Marketing Week that the Manchester United defender, the title’s editor in chief, has “gravitas with the advertising community”.

“A lot of brands are interested in Rio. The closure of Sport would be a lot more disturbing if he wasn’t involved,” he said.

Crouch says #5 already has deals with brands such as Nike, and email distribution deals with partners such as MSN and MTV. The bi-monthly title is being published by Made Up Media under license from Rio’s management company New Era and expects to do well in markets such as the Far East due to the strength of the Manchester United brand abroad.

The launch of #5 comes a week after the announcement of the closure of free print publication Sport, due to the collapse of French parent company Sport Media & Strategie.

Mike Soutar, founder and managing director of the free weekly men’s magazine ShortList, dismissed the idea that Sport’s failure signalled a change in fortune for the free magazine model.

“ShortList has a circulation of 500,000 nationally with a range of loyal advertisers compared to a London-only title with a circulation of 200,000 that was part of a large and remote company that got into financial difficulty.”

He adds: “We’re a genuinely independent UK company which is in it for the long term, and it also has lots of differential areas generating content, we’re not reliant, for example, on large sports events,” he adds.

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