The Co-op, one of the UK’s biggest magazine distributers with over 4,000 stores, has issued the publishers with the ultimatum, and began obscuring the front covers of such magazines using opaque screens on its shelves earlier this month.
Publishers of titles such as Front, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo now have until 9 September to introduce “modesty bags” or have their titles withdrawn from circulation.
Growing customer concerns over the possibility to exposing children to overtly sexual images on the covers of such titles has been the main reason for such a move, according to the retailer.
Steve Murrells, CEO of The Co-op Group, says: “Whilst we have tried to mitigate the likelihood of young children seeing the images with a number of measures in-store, the most effective way of doing this is for these magazines to be put in individual, sealed modesty bags.”
The Sport newspaper has already agreed to delivering its editions to Co-op outlets in such “modesty bags”, according to the retailer.
Marketing Week attempted to contact IPC Media publisher of Nuts magazine for comment, but it was available by time of publication. However, the Professional Publishers’ Association (PPA) has issued the following statement on the matter:
“The average age of a reader of men’s lifestyle magazines is 30, according to the National Readership Survey, and these titles are not created for, or marketed to, children.
“Publishers support the guidelines on the appropriate display of men’s lifestyle magazines, which have been drawn up with the National Federation of Retail Newsagents and endorsed by the Home Office.”
Meanwhile, Bauer Media, publisher of Zoo magazine, has issued a statement claiming it supportd the existing guidelines for publishing men’s magazines.
It reads: ”We are sensitive to the mood of the public, to that end we have responded accordingly and have changed ZOO magazine’s cover imagery and phrasing.
“We already have agreements in place with all major retailers, including Co-op, to ensure Zoo magazine is isplayed appropriately and we work closely with all our retailers to ensure they are adhered to.”
Jo Swinson, MP and Minister for Women and Equalities, says: “Exposing children to lewd pictures that portray women as sex objects is not appropriate.
“That’s why The Co-operative’s decision to implement the Bailey review recommendation for publications with overtly sexual images on the cover to be displayed and sold in modesty bags is very welcome.”